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

Client Alert

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.

New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Delaware Become the latest States to Adopt Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created many obstacles and hardships, it also created many opportunities to try doing things differently. This can be seen in the instant rise of remote work opportunities, telehealth visits, and virtual meetings. Many States took the challenges of the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity to adjust the regulations governing licensed professionals, including for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.