Hall Render highlights key concepts of “Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund” in CARES Act

President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act on Friday, putting in place a broad range of provisions to provide economic relief to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those provisions is the establishment of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. The emergency relief bill allocates $100 billion to the fund to “reimburse, through grants or other mechanisms, eligible health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus.”

 

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Hall Render, the nation’s largest law firm focused exclusively on health care, offered a rundown of key definitions, concepts, and processes included in the new funding opportunity.

The law firm first notes that the funding will be available not only for expenses related to combatting COVID-19, but also for lost revenues. The term “lost revenues” is not defined in the act, but John Williams, an attorney on Hall Render’s Federal Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy team, offered his take on what this means for providers. He writes,

“Be prepared to estimate revenue and we would suggest lost operating margin from: cancelling elective procedures across all patient care venues… to clear the schedule for a surge and/or minimizing community spread. Consider not only lost revenue from downtime/lower volumes while getting ready, but also lost revenue/operating margin impact (even if full to overflowing due to surge) from replacing higher margin service lines with lower margin services. Be prepared to project, track and ID various components.”

Williams notes that the term “eligible health care providers” in the bill applies to a broad range of suppliers and providers including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, FQHCs, rural health clinics, health home aids, hospice, and physician offices “that provide diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19.”

In the bill, provider expenses that may be reimbursed include medical supplies and equipment, such as PPE, as well as the construction of temporary structures, leasing of properties, increased workforce and trainings, and retrofitting facilities.

“Note it is not just for stuff, but also for labor – increase workforce and training,” writes Williams. “Look to capture/track this information early and often.”

Another key provision highlighted by Williams is that the term “payment” in the bill is defined as a “pre-payment, prospective payment, or retrospective payment as determined appropriate.”

“This will not be just retrospective, but can be prospective,” writes Williams. “Look for up front grants based on estimated/projected costs and lost revenues with full or partial interim payment process – so initial payments subject to some sort of subsequent true up based on a retrospective accounting.”

Hall Render will continue to monitor and learn about the processes, definitions, and key concepts related to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Additional information can be found at Hall Render’s coronavirus webpage.