New HHS rule changes remove restrictions
HHS has announced changes to its rules around how providers who received relief funds need to calculate how much of that money they can keep. The latest shift, announced Oct. 22, moves away from restrictions that forced providers to return money if their operations were more profitable in 2020 than in 2019, allowing them instead to hang on to relief funds that increased their profitability.
The agency also announced that it is expanding the range of providers that can apply for relief funds to include assisted living facilities, podiatric medicine and surgery service, ambulatory health care facilities, hospital units, and “respiratory, developmental, rehabilitative, and restorative services,” among others.
The change in reporting requirements was made in light of criticism from providers, trade associations, and members of Congress who advocated for a return to the original reporting methodology announced in June. Under that system, providers were allowed to use relief funds for coronavirus-related expenses or revenues lost. Those lost revenues could be calculated based on comparisons of actual or budgeted revenue in 2019 and 2020.
In September, HHS changed course and announced that relief funds could only be applied to make up for losses in net income between 2019 and 2020, effectively barring providers from using relief money to reach budgeted revenue calculations. According to a recent policy update, the change was made “to conserve resources to allocate to providers who were less profitable.” After pushback, HHS returned to its original system allowing providers “to apply [relief fund] payments against all lost revenues without limitation.”
The reporting portal is set to open Jan. 15, with the first reporting deadline scheduled for Feb. 15.
This isn’t the first time HHS has reversed a previous policy or decision, a fact APTA underscored for its members by calling this latest move “another example why it’s crucial… to stay on top of developments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and punctuating the announcement with a header “The Big Takeaway: Keep an Eye On HHS.”