The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 10 released guidance on the first wave of distribution of the $100 billion Provider Relief Fund established by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, P.L. 116-136) signed into law on March 27 [see Washington Highlights, March 27]. The guidance states that payments from the fund will begin on April 10, 2020.
As established in the law, payments from the fund are intended to “support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to coronavirus.” The guidance also specifies that providers accepting the funds cannot balance bill uninsured patients for testing and treatment of COVID-19.
HHS will initially distribute $30 billion, which will be allocated to all Medicare Part A and Part B providers based on their share of total Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements in 2019. The payments will be made via providers’ Tax Identification Numbers. UnitedHealth Group will work to deliver the initial $30 billion and will pay providers via Automated Clearing House account information. Providers will be required to sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds within 30 days and confirm agreement with the terms and conditions of receiving payment.
The next round of funding distributions, according to HHS, will “focus on providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, and providers of services with lower shares of Medicare FFS reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population.”