April 17, 2020

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began distributing $30 billion on Friday, April 10, 2020 to U.S. medical providers who received Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements in 2019. The funds, which are not loans and do not need to be paid back, are being directly deposited into providers’ accounts.

Providers are receiving about 1/16th of his/her Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019 in the form of a stimulus payment. If a provider did not bill Medicare in 2019 for FFS, the provider will not receive money from this distribution.

The funds are meant to be used to cover health care-related expenses or lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of expenses identified in the CARES Act include building or construction of temporary structures, leasing of properties, buying medical supplies, personal protective equipment and testing supplies, increasing one’s workforce and holding trainings, and retrofitting facilities. However, providers can essentially use the funds as they see fit, as long as they do not use them to reimburse expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources, or that other sources are obligated to reimburse.

Providers are required to document how the stimulus payment is used. They will also be required to submit reports to ensure compliance with the payment. But details of what those reports will entail have not been made available yet.

Additionally, those who receive stimulus payments from HHS are not exempted from receiving other forms of relief.

The $30 billion distribution is part of $100 billion relief fund appropriated in the CARES Act to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), also called the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. HHS intends to distribute more relief funds in the future, particularly to providers hit hard by the pandemic as well as those who serve rural areas, the Medicaid population and the uninsured, and those with lower shares of Medicare FFS reimbursement.

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Lacie O’Daire is chair of the Tax and Wealth Management Group at Walter | Haverfield. She can be reached at lodaire@walterhav.com and at 216-928-2901.