Behavioral health providers that accept commercial health insurance or have private pay models are among those newly eligible to apply for the latest phase of federal provider relief funding. Previously, the Provider Relief Fund was only opened to those that bill federal payers.
The Provider Relief Fund was created as a result of the CARES Act to help certain health care providers offset COVID-19-related losses and costs. It typically allows them to receive 2% worth of their annual revenue from patient care in federal relief.
When the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) first announced expanded eligibility for behavioral health providers last week, there was initially some confusion about which providers were included on that list. But now, the provider relief portal has made things clear.
It says behavioral health providers who billed a health insurance company as of March 31, 2020 are now eligible to apply, as are behavioral organizations that don’t accept insurance but have billed patients for health care-related services as of March 31, 2020. Both were previously ineligible.
Additionally, organizations that began providing services in 2020 may now apply. So can providers who bill Medicare and Medicaid but have not yet applied for funding.
Finally, behavioral providers who have already received their full 2% Provider Relief Fund payments but need additional aid due to financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus can apply for additional relief. However, there’s still some uncertainty on the details of those bonus payments, according to Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.
“So far, what we have seen on that is … a little unclear,” Ingoglia told Behavioral Health Business. “Will they only make supplemental payments after they have verified that everybody else has got their 2% or will that be happening concurrently? And there’s no indication of what size that supplemental payment will be.”
Still, Ingoglia expects to see clarification on that soon. Overall, he called all the expanded eligibility for behavioral providers a step in the right direction.
This round of provider relief funding includes $20 billion. Providers began applying for the funds on October 5 and can continue to do so through Nov. 6.