Biden Administration Will Give Hospitals More Time To Spend Covid-19 Relief Money

Congress passed about $ 187 billion in various spending bills dating back to the Trump administration to help hospitals recoup losses related to the pandemic, but providers had to use the money by June 30, 2021 or return it. Many hospitals urged the administration to give them more time because they said they are still suffering financially from the pandemic.

With the announcement expected on Friday, the extension will give more time to most providers who received payments after June 30, 2020.

The terms to spend the money will be staggered. Hospitals that received funds from July 1 to December 31 of last year will now have until December 31 of this year to use the money, according to federal officials. Those who received money from January 1 of this year to June 30 will receive until June 30, 2022. Recipients of funds between July 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 will have until December 21 of 2022.

“These updated requirements reflect our focus on giving providers equitable amounts of time to use these funds,” said Diana Espinosa, interim administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some hospital leaders have said they have ongoing pandemic-related expenses despite the national decline in Covid-19 cases, and some have called for the deadline to coincide with the end of the public health emergency. Hospital officials have said they have seen revenues for elective procedures decline, while costs for staff, drugs, supplies and some services such as sterilization have increased.

“The work to address the COVID-19 pandemic continues, despite the relief currently provided by an increase in vaccination levels,” according to a May 10 letter to HHS from the American Hospital Association, the Hospital Association. Children’s Hospitals and other groups. .

The Biden administration will also publish revised reporting requirements for healthcare organizations that receive money from the Provider Assistance Fund. Recipients will have a 90-day period to complete the report instead of the current 30-day period, federal officials said.

The new requirements will apply to providers who received one or more payments that exceed, in total, $ 10,000 during a single period from the Provider Assistance Fund or other funds established to assist healthcare organizations with Covid-related costs. -19. Nursing homes will now have to meet reporting requirements.

The reporting requirements will not apply to certain programs, such as federal reimbursements hospitals receive for treating uninsured patients with Covid-19. A portal will open on July 1 for providers to begin submitting information.

Administration officials, under pressure to withdraw the funds and extend the time to use the money, have said they were also focused on making sure the funds were used properly.

“We’re trying to provide some flexibility,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Tuesday during a House Ways and Means Committee budget hearing. “We have seen, after having seen how the Provider Assistance Fund was originally implemented, some of the problems that occurred we are trying to make sure we don’t make the mistakes of the past.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, testifying before a Senate panel Thursday, says the Biden administration wants to provide flexibility to hospitals, while ensuring funds are spent properly.


Photo:

Tom Williams / Zuma Press

In some cases, the funding went to hospitals that were no longer in operation. Some hospitals that received the money returned it, saying it was not necessary. Initially, the fund provided more money to profitable hospitals and less to distressed facilities that most need the support, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

At the end of May, about $ 24 billion remained in the Provider Assistance Fund, not including another $ 8.5 billion added for rural healthcare providers from the $ 1.9 billion American Rescue Plan Act passed in March.

Write to Stephanie Armor at [email protected]

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