HHS Stays Strong On Sept. 30 Provider Relief Reporting Deadline

Inside Health Policy

August 26, 2021 7:22 am

HHS is not budging on its initial provider relief financial reporting deadline despite advocates’ mounting pressure for a delay, reminding relief recipients in two 15-minute stakeholder calls Thursday (Aug. 26) that they have 35 days to submit how they used COVID-19 relief to cover lost revenue and increased costs due to the pandemic.

The department’s stakeholder calls for provider relief recipients came shortly after group medical practices sent HHS a letter asking it to extend the financial reporting deadline until 2023. The Medical Group Management Association is worried the reporting requirements are so complex and arduous that some providers dealing with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases might not be able to meet the initial reporting deadline of Sept. 30. One attendee echoed this concern.

“Nothing like a 4th surge to work through while figuring this out,” the stakeholder wrote in a chat alongside the call.

The American Hospital Association and some lawmakers are also pushing for extensions but are mostly focusing on the spending deadlines.

HHS’ June guidance created four payment periods that give provider relief recipients one year to spend all their funds. This means providers who received $10,000 or more in relief before June 30, 2020 have a hard deadline of Sept. 30 to report how they used their relief over the past year. They will have until Oct. 30 to return the unspent funds to HHS.

But Health Resources and Services Administration staff who ran the brief stakeholder calls Thursday said many providers have yet to sign up for the reporting portal, which is needed to submit their financial report.

“HRSA is remaining committed to supporting all providers with reporting,” HRSA staff said on the call. “We understand that it’s stressful, and for this reason, we continue collecting feedback to inform the development of new resources, so I’m super excited to share today three new resources that we recently came out with that can help your members with different aspects of the reporting process.”

HRSA’s new resources condense information from previous guidance and frequently asked questions into a few pages. They focus on lost revenue calculations, general financial reporting and using provider relief for personnel recruitment and retention.

Richard Kes, health care industry senior analyst at the audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, says these new resources don’t explain anything new, but show how HRSA is trying to make sure providers understand the requirements.

“I think the big takeaway is — maybe this is me being overly optimistic — is they are trying to make things easy, trying to put all the documentation all the requirements in one place, you know, like that one pager that they put together, you know, it’s a really well-organized document with all the hyperlinks of where you need to go,” Kes said, adding these are things his clients typically ask him for.

But Kes and other accountants like Fred Fisher, vice president of service development for Toyon Associates, Inc., are still waiting for clarification from HRSA. One area of confusion is how to calculate lost revenues for 2021 when the providers’ budgets must have been set before March 2020 in order to show that revenue was lost during the pandemic. Most budgets typically cover only a year, so unless providers passed a two-year budget, this limits how they can justify the use of COVID-19 relief in 2021.

Fisher is also hoping HRSA will clarify how providers can report total marginal cost increases for treating a patient and what counts as patient care revenue.

The next provider relief spending deadline is Dec. 31 for providers who received relief between July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. –