June 8, 2020
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) has updated the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), providing more clarity concerning eligible COVID-related expenses and COVID-attributable lost revenues. The updated FAQ explains that “health care related expenses attributable to coronavirus" may cover a wide range of items and services, including:
- Supplies used to provide healthcare services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients;
- Equipment used to provide healthcare services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients;
- Workforce training;
- Developing and staffing emergency operation centers;
- Reporting COVID-19 test results to federal, state, or local governments;
- Building or constructing temporary structures to expand capacity for COVID-19 patient care or to provide healthcare services to non-COVID-19 patients in a separate area from where COVID-19 patients are being treated; and
- Acquiring additional resources, including facilities, equipment, supplies, healthcare practices, staffing, and technology to expand or preserve care delivery.
Providers may use the Provider Relief Fund for expenses incurred on any date, though HHS notes that eligible expenses prior to January 1, 2020 would be viewed as highly unusual.
Additionally, HHS notes that the term “lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus" means any revenue that a healthcare provider lost due to coronavirus, including lost revenue associated with fewer outpatient visits, canceled elective procedures or services, or increased uncompensated care. Such costs do not need to be specific to providing care for possible or actual coronavirus patients. HHS also elaborated that funds should be used so that providers can respond to the coronavirus public health emergency by maintaining healthcare delivery capacity. HHS lists the following as eligible expenses that Provider Relief Fund payments may cover:
- Employee or contractor payroll;
- Employee health insurance;
- Rent or mortgage payments;
- Equipment lease payments; and
- Electronic health record licensing fees.
HHS updates the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQs regularly, and IHA encourages member hospitals and health systems to review the Provider Relief Fund website periodically for updates and clarifications.