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

WARNING: Take a deep breath before you read this! And then pat yourself on the back for your continued resilience and ability to adapt and pivot during this unprecedented time! 2021 is seeming to prove to be a continuation of 2020 with one constant – change and uncertainty. 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.

The aggregate HHS guidance regarding the reporting requirements basically required providers to report (1) expenses attributable to COVID, and (2) lost revenues attributable to COVID. While those in the healthcare industry would generally agree that expenses attributable to COVID have been predictably defined by HHS, controversy continues to surround the definition of lost revenues attributable to COVID. Under the most recent guidance that we have available, lost revenues is defined as the year-over-year net change in patient care revenues from 2019 to 2020 plus additional assistance received in 2020 (including all PPP, EIDL, and other federal, state, and local assistance). Of course, this changed from guidance issues in early Fall 2020 and June 2020. 

On December 27, 2020, the Federal Appropriations Act was signed into law. While this is largely hailed as a COVID-19 relief package that served as a follow up to the Paycheck Protection Program, it did contain some changes to the Provider Relief Funds and the calculation of lost revenues. 

Providers received Phase 1 funds through automatic payments electronically deposited in their accounts based on 2019 Medicare fee-for-service payments. During Phase 1, providers had the option to apply for additional funds to supplement lost revenue, up to 2% of 2019 total collections by submitting additional practice information – including lost revenues. Providers could use a reasonable accounting methodology to calculate lost revenues where such methodologies included the difference between the provider’s 2020 budget and actual 2020 revenues or comparison of current revenues to previous revenues for the same time period. 

The definition of lost revenues was further revised in September 2020, steering away from a “reasonable accounting methodology” and moving towards a year-over-year analysis. And then finally settling on the definition contained in the November 2, 2020 guidance with a year-over-year analysis of revenues from patient care, but adding back in other assistance received in 2020. The guidance did not include any allowances for material changes in the provider’s business such as the addition or loss of providers, locations, or service lines. 

Through the new legislation, Congress appears to be sending a message back to HHS to revise the definition of lost revenues to allow providers to use a “reasonable accounting methodology” instead of a “one-size fits all” calculation. It will also be interesting to see whether HHS will exclude the additional assistance received in 2020 from the calculation.

HHS did update the FAQs on January 12, 2021 after the Federal Appropriations Act was passed, but these updates did not address the lost revenue calculations. So we anticipate that the portal will not open as anticipated and that additional changes will be forthcoming.  As a next step, providers should continue to be on the lookout for additional updates regarding the Provider Relief Funds. Providers should also continue to gather information related to expenses, revenues, and additional assistance received in 2020 in anticipation of reporting requirements. We can definitely count on one thing – CHANGE!   

If you have any questions, please contact BMD Healthcare and Hospital Law Member Amanda Waesch at alwaesch@bmdllc.com or 330-253-9185.

Surprise! A Cautionary Tale for Out-Of-Network Billing: The No Surprises Act and the Impact on Healthcare Providers

SURPRISE! Congress passed The No Surprises Act at the end of 2020. Providers, particularly those billing as out-of-network providers, should start thinking about strategies to comply with this new law, set to take effect on January 1, 2022. In its most basic sense, the new law prohibits providers from billing patients for more than the in-network cost-sharing amount in most situations where surprise bills happen. It specifically applies to non-government payers and the amounts will be set through a process described in the new law. In particular, the established in-network cost-sharing amount must be billed for the following services:

Ohio Enacts Substantial Changes to Employment Discrimination Laws

In January, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law the Employment Law Uniformity Act, amending the employment protections in the Ohio Civil Rights Act in several significant ways. Such changes to the state’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws have been considered and debated for years and finally made their way into Ohio law. What has changed for employment claims under the amended Ohio Civil Rights Act?

OHIO ADOPTS THE SERIES LLC: Implementation of Ohio’s Revised Limited Liability Company Act is Coming

On January 7, 2021, Ohio adopted S.B. 276. The new legislation establishes the Ohio Revised Limited Liability Company Act (“ORLLCA”) which effectively replaces the current Ohio LLC Act. ORLLCA will be fully effective as of January 2022. While the new law contains numerous changes to the existing LLC landscape, below is an overview of some of the key differences under the ORLLCA.

Will Federal Legislation Open Cannabis Acquisition Floodgate?

Are potential buyers quietly lobbying at federal and state levels to kick open the door to launch a new round of strategic acquisitions? Will presently pending federal legislation, the SAFE and MORE Acts, providing safe harbor for banks and re- or de-scheduling marijuana, be sufficient to mobilize into action major non-cannabis companies that previously shunned the cannabis industry due to the unknown implications of owning businesses whose activities are illegal under federal law?

The Future of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Over the last year we all have had to adjust to the new normal ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and daycares closed, businesses transitioned from in-office work to work from home, bars and restaurants have closed their doors...all to slow the spread and try to prevent this pandemic from spiraling out of control. The start of the pandemic was utter pandemonium. Working parents trying to balance both caring for their now at-home children and their livelihood. Businesses trying to decide how to implement leave policies with limited information. Employees determining if they could financially afford to take time off. We were all flying by the seat of our pants trying to adjust to our new normal.