More help is on the way for health care providers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is providing $25.5 billion in new funding. This includes $8.5 billion for the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and $17 billion for Phase 4 of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).
ARP Rural is intended to help address the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on rural communities and rural health care providers. The ARP Rural payments will be based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare services provided to patients living in rural areas. The payments will generally be based on Medicare rates. Providers who serve any patients living in HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy defined rural areas with Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare coverage, and who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria, will receive a minimum payment.
The Provider Relief Fund provides payments for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue due to coronavirus. These distributions generally do not need to be repaid. The PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on the provider’s lost revenue and expenditures between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Smaller providers will be reimbursed at a higher rate than larger providers. PRF Phase 4 payments will include bonus payments for serving Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare patients. These bonus payments will be reimbursed at Medicare rates.
Providers may apply for both programs with one application. The application portal opens September 29, 2021. To prepare, providers should start gathering supporting documentation, such as most recent tax documents and financial statements for the second half of calendar year 2020 and the first quarter of calendar year 2021. Providers should also search the Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer to see what areas qualify as rural for the ARP rural payments.
For more information about how to apply for the PRF Phase 4 and ARP Rural payments, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief/future-payments.
Providers who believe their Phase 3 PRF payment was not calculated correctly may now request a reconsideration. HHS has released detailed information about the methodology utilized to calculate Phase 3 payments. Additional detail on this reconsideration process will be forthcoming from HHS.
HHS has also announced a final 60-day grace period to comply with PRF reporting requirements for the September 30, 2021 deadline. The deadline to use the funds and the reporting time period will not change. Additional information may be found regarding the PRF Reporting requirements.