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June 11, 2021

Health Law Weekly

Becerra Says Guidance on Provider Relief Fund Coming Soon as Spending Deadline Looms

  • June 11, 2021

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue guidance this month for providers as the June 30 deadline for spending COVID-19 relief funds approaches, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told lawmakers during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

Becerra said the agency would provide some flexibility, but did not specifically state that HHS would extend the deadline for spending the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) money beyond the end of the month, as some lawmakers and health care groups have requested.

“We want to make sure everyone keeps the deadlines as best as possible,” Becerra told the panel, adding that HHS would be coming out with guidance soon “to help make sure [providers] can apply for and make good use of their monies.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act and other COVID-19 relief legislation allocated $178 billion to the PRF.

In May, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers sent a letter to Becerra asking HHS to extend the deadline for spending PRF money for another year, until June 30, 2022. The lawmakers also urged HHS to distribute remaining PRF funds as soon as possible.

“While this assistance has been a vital lifeline for our health care providers in their fight against COVID-19, we remain worried that inconsistent and incomplete reporting requirements are limiting the ability of recipients to fully utilize their awards from the PRF,” the letter said.

Hospital groups, including the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, also have urged HHS to extend the deadline through the length of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“We anticipate financial challenges will persist for America’s hospitals and health systems, with more financial impact expected due to the pandemic. According to reports released by the American Hospital Association, hospitals were projected to lose to at least $323.1 billion through the end of 2020, with additional projected losses this year of as much as $122 billion,” the groups said in a May 10 letter to Becerra.