Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Important Items Every Provider Should Know if Accepting the HHS Provider Relief Funds

On April 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued $30 billion to healthcare providers as part of the Provider Relief Fund under the CARES Act.  Providers will have 30 days from the date of receipt to access the HHS portal, attest to the payment, and accept the Terms and Conditions. The Terms and Conditions require providers to take substantial steps to ensure compliance. Here is what every provider should know: 

  • Providers should ensure that they attest on the HHS portal to ensure that the money allocated by HHS is consistent with the amount they received, as HHS will certainly recoup any excess amount and the provider will have an obligation to repay such excess.
  • Providers are required to follow 45 CFR 75.302 with respect to financial record-keeping. Providers must adopt a written policy that includes a documented process for ensuring proper allowability of costs and expenses in furtherance of the Provider Relief Fund Terms and Conditions. 
  • Providers are required to comply with 45 CFR 75.361-365 with respect to record retention requirements. This affords HHS a 3-year lookback opportunity to audit providers’ compliance with the Provider Relief Fund Terms and Conditions. 
  • Providers cannot “balance bill” patients for any COVID-related treatment. All providers must bill patients as if the provider is an in-network provider even if the provider is out-of-network. 
  • The Provider Relief Fund Terms and Conditions contain whistleblower protections.

We anticipate that HHS will audit providers’ compliance. Therefore, we recommend the following: 

  • Identify a compliance officer or individual who will be responsible for these funds.
  • Adopt a written policy and procedure to ensure compliance with the Terms and Conditions. This policy should be incorporated into your Compliance Plan.
  • Adopt a written compliant financial record-keeping process.
  • Adopt a written billing policy and update your Patient Financial Responsibility Form. Under the FFCRA and the CARES Act, private insurance plans are required to waive patient co-sharing payment requirements. Providers should have a documented plan for compliance.
  • Providers that received money under another federal COVID-related program (PPP, EIDL, etc.) must separately account for such funds and maintain appropriate records.

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Providers must ensure vendors and contractors meet certain requirements in order to allocate Provider Relief Funds to these vendor/contractor expenses.
  • Providers should carefully review Confidentiality Agreements, NDAs, and Severance and Settlement Agreements to ensure that language is compliant with the Terms and Conditions.
  • Providers should carefully allocate appropriate expenses as well as properly document “lost revenues.” 
  • Providers cannot allocated expenses twice to two different funding sources.
  • Providers must develop a strategy to use the Provider Relief Funds in accordance with other COVID-related funding (e.g. PPP, EIDL, etc.)

BMD can provide you with a written policy as well as review your agreements to ensure compliance with the Term and Conditions. For questions or more information, please contact Amanda Waesch at alwaesch@bmdllc.com or 330-253-9185.

Provider Relief Funds – Continued Confusion Regarding Reporting Requirements and Lost Revenues

In Fall 2020, HHS issued multiple rounds of guidance and FAQs regarding the reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Funds, the most recently published notice being November 2, 2020 and December 11, 2020. Specifically, the reporting portal for the use of the funds in 2020 was scheduled to open on January 15, 2021. Although there was much speculation as to whether this would occur. And, as of the date of this article, the portal was not opened.

Ohio S.B. 310 Loosens Practice Barrier for Advanced Practice Providers

S.B. 310, signed by Ohio Governor DeWine and effective from December 29, 2020 until May 1, 2021, provides flexibility regarding the regulatorily mandated supervision and collaboration agreements for physician assistants, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse practitioners working in a hospital or other health care facility. Originally drafted as a bill to distribute federal COVID funding to local subdivisions, the healthcare related provisions were added to help relieve some of the stresses hospitals and other healthcare facilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS Issues Opinion Regarding Illegal Attempts by Drug Manufacturers to Deny 340B Discounts under Contract Pharmacy Arrangements

The federal 340B discount drug program is a safety net for many federally qualified health centers, disproportionate share hospitals, and other covered entities. This program allows these providers to obtain discount pricing on drugs which in turn allows the providers to better serve their patient populations and provide their patients with access to vital health care services. Over the years, the 340B program has undergone intense scrutiny, particularly by drug manufacturers who are required by federal law to provide the discounted pricing.

S.B. 263 Protects 340B Covered Entities from Predatory Practices in Ohio

Just before the end of calendar year 2020 and at the end of its two-year legislative session, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 263, which prohibits insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) from imposing on 340B Covered Entities discriminatory pricing and other contract terms. This is a win for safety net providers and the people they serve, as 340B savings are crucial to their ability to provide high quality, affordable programs and services to patients.

DOL Finalizes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status, But Its Future Is In Jeopardy

On January 6, 2021, the Department of Labor announced its final rule regarding independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As described in a prior BMD client alert, this new rule was fast-tracked by the Trump administration after its proposal in September 2020. The new rule is set to take effect on March 8, 2021, and contains several key developments related to the "economic reality" test used to determine whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee under the FLSA.