Behavioral health providers only have a few days left to apply for money from the Provider Relief Fund, which could play an important role in keeping them afloat amid the coronavirus. The deadline is Friday, August 28.
The Provider Relief Fund is a product of the CARES Act designed to help Medicare and Medicaid providers navigate the coronavirus. It set aside $175 billion in relief grants to reimburse those organizations for eligible expenses and lost revenues attributable to COVID-19.
For behavioral health providers, coronavirus-related losses have been significant. On average, organizations have lost 24.3% of their revenue during the COVID-19 emergency, according to a June survey by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Plus, more that 70% of survey respondents also had to cancel, reschedule or turn away patients during that time.
As such, any additional funding can help behavioral health providers — even the small amount afforded by the Provider Relief Fund. Generally, organizations are only eligible to receive up to 2% of their patient care revenues in relief funding.
Any provider who has yet to receive that amount can apply for more relief by submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distribution portal.
That includes organizations that bill Medicare and have already received a provider relief payment of less than 2% of its patient care revenues, as well Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care and CHIP providers who have not hit the 2% cap.
While provider relief payments are advertised as grants that don’t have to be repaid, providers must agree to meet certain criteria for that to be the case.
For example, providers who get more than $10,000 from the Provider Relief Fund and use their money by the end of 2020 will be expected to report how they used the money by Feb. 15, 2021, according to guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Plus, the money must be used on coronavirus-related expenses and losses.
If providers fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the funding, they could face audits in the future, Matt Wolfe, a partner at the law firm Parker Poe, recently told BHB’s sister publication Home Health Care News
“Anytime that HHS is going to be requiring that providers issue reports, they’re not just going to take the providers’ word for it,” Wolfe said. “They’re going to then analyze those reports, and those could lead to further audits in terms of how those funds were used.”