Skilled nursing operators that didn’t land Provider Relief Funding in the federal COVID program’s final award phase might be in for a surprise — or they could ultimately face another round of disappointment.
Nicole Fallon, vice president of integrated services and managed care policy for LeadingAge, noted earlier this week that the Health Resources and Services Administration had added an additional period for providers to report funds they receive after this July 1.
“Don’t get excited. It’s not another phase,” Fallon told members on a policy update call Monday. “But they added two reporting periods that are going to cover payments that are received through July 1 of 2023 and June 30 of 2024. So what that tells me is that they are still working their way through the arduous task of reviewing requests for reconsideration.
“If you are one of those folks waiting for a redetermination, this is both good news and bad news,” Fallon added.” It’s good news because the possibility of still getting some Provider Relief dollars is still alive. The bad news is they are now giving themselves until June 30 of next year to get all of that resolved and money out to folks.”
The optimism that providers who have already applied could get additional support to pay for COVID tests, infection prevention and other pandemic needs may, however, be tempered by recent political events.
At a Wednesday meeting to negotiate a debt ceiling solution and avoid a national default, President Biden indicated he is open to Republicans’ wishes to rescind much of the nation’s unused COVID relief program. That totals about $80 billion across six major programs.
A Democratic analysis produced in late April showed some $3 billion still in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund. It warned that rescinding this funding “would reduce relief payments to rural and safety net hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare providers for expenses or lost revenues attributable to the Covid pandemic.”
It’s unclear how many nursing homes might be able to collect if the Provider Relief Fund is left intact.
In March 2022, HHS said it was distributing $413 million to more than 3,600 healthcare providers. At that point, the department had reviewed approximately 89% of applications for its final phase of funding. HRSA did not say how many providers had been rejected and appealed for reconsideration.