QUESTION: Our practice received two emergency relief fund distributions from HHS. We are pleased for the help, but worried we are not complying with the related rules. What are the specific usage and reporting requirements for these funds so we can correctly comply?
Question from Dayton, Ohio Subscriber
ANSWER: You are not alone if you are wondering how to manage the funds that just showed up in your bank account one day from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under the CARES Act, more than $175 million was distributed as financial relief to hospitals and healthcare practices who prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
The problem is that the speed in which the relief funds went out made it impossible to finalize utilization and reporting rules. So, everyone that received the money is confused. So, now what?
Practice management experts advise keeping the money to help your practice, paying back any overpayments, and establishing clean reporting. By receiving and accepting these funds, you’re bound to the following compliance steps.
- Sign attestation. If you were allocated a payment you have to sign an attestation within 90 days of payment confirming you received the funds and agree to the terms and conditions. You can also reject funds via this portal. Failing to accept or reject the funds within 90 days of receipt will be viewed as an acceptance of the Terms & Conditions.
- Submit financial data. If you received automatic funds prior to 5:00 pm, Friday, April 24th, you have to submit tax forms or financial statements and agree to the Terms and Conditions, to keep your funds. This also serves as an application for additional funding.
Look to Terms & Conditions for HHS Provider Relief Fund Reporting Guidance
Although formal management and reporting guidelines are still pending, there are things you can do to improve your chances of compliance. HHS is pointing providers who receive Provider Relief Fund payments to their Terms & Conditions for reporting instructions. If you receive more than $150,000 in funds you must submit a report to the Secretary and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, no later than 10 days after the end of each calendar quarter, beginning with the quarter ending June 30.
Your report must include:
- The total amount of funds that you received from HHS.
- The amount that you spent or committed to for each project or activity.
- A detailed list of all projects or activities that you spent or committed funds to. You must include the project’s name and description, how many (estimated) jobs were created or retained by the project, and detailed information on sub-contracts or subgrants awarded by the covered recipient or its subcontractors or subgrantees.
Stay tuned for future guidance: HHS has stated that they will provide guidance in the future about the type of documentation they expect recipients to submit. In the meantime, you can check out their CARES Fund Provider Relief Fund FAQs, and keep your eyes on HHS website for updates.
Be warned that the DOJ will be prioritizing COVID-19 fraud. Per a statement by Attorney General William Barr, the DOJ is committed to pursuing fraud in healthcare and violations from whistle blowers, and they will investigate and prosecute criminal conduct related to the pandemic.
Training Available: For more strategies on how can you protect yourself and your practice from the repercussions of noncompliance with rules you may not even have been aware of, join the online training “Avoid Losing COVID-19 Provider Emergency Relief Fund Payments,” from healthcare attorney, Kristyn DeFilipp, Esq. She will walk you through EXACTLY what you are required to do to keep the emergency relief money you’ve received. Kristyn will provide you with an up-to-date, plain-English breakdown of your obligations, and help you decipher each relief fund requirement so you can hang on to the money.
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