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HHS Announces $4.9 Billion for Skilled Nursing Providers Impacted by COVID-19

This Bulletin is brought to you by AHLA’s Post-Acute and Long Term Services Practice Group.
  • June 09, 2020
  • Kyle René , Hancock Daniel & Johnson PC

On May 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would be distributing $4.9 billion in relief to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in an effort to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In announcing the additional relief, HHS indicated that the “funding, which supplements previously announced provider relief funds, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.” HHS’ announcement also set forth a distribution methodology for the relief, directing that:
 
“HHS will make relief fund distributions to SNFs based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.”
 
Relief funds will be distributed by provider tax identification number (TIN). As HHS acknowledged, “there may be instances where a billing TIN includes multiple SNFs.” Providers wishing to receive funds must enter applicable information through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal, including making certain attestations and agreeing to applicable Terms and Conditions. Under these Terms and Conditions, providers must, among other requirements:
 
1. Certify that they will not use the payment to reimburse expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources or that other sources are obligated to reimburse;
    
2. Submit reports to the HHS Secretary to verify compliance with the terms and conditions of payment;
    
3. Consent to public disclosure of the payment (with respect to this requirement, HHS acknowledges that “such disclosure may allow some third parties to estimate the Recipient’s gross receipts or sales, program service revenue, or other equivalent information”);
    
4. Certify that, for all care provided in the event of a presumptive or actual COVID-19 case, the provider “will not seek to collect from the patient out-of-pocket expenses in an amount greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been provided by an in-network [provider].”
 
In addition to the above Terms and Conditions, providers in receipt of more than $150,000 in relief under the various packages tied to COVID-19 (including the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act) must submit a report to the HHS Secretary no later than 10 days after the end of each quarter detailing the total funds received from HHS and how those funds were allocated, among other pieces of information.
 
In a statement issued in response to HHS’ announcement, American Health Care Association (AHCA) CEO Mark Parkinson expressed appreciation for the “much-needed funding,” emphasizing that “we need everyone around the country to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way they have around hospitals.” Mr. Parkinson further highlighted the fact that “assisted living communities have yet to receive any direct aid,” adding that “while building on support received from HHS, we are asking for additional consideration for all long term care facilities, whether it be in regard to additional testing, personal protective equipment, or funding.”
 
It is anticipated that long term care providers will continue to lobby for further relief as they work to comply with newly implemented rules for monitoring and reporting COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.