The Department of Health and Human Services will now be basing its entire distribution of $50 billion in COVID-19 relief funding on providers’ 2018 net patient revenues. 

Brian Ellsworth, vice president for public policy and payment transformation for Health Dimensions Group

HHS had previously planned to base the funding distribution on 2019 Medicare fee-for-service revenues, Inside Health Policy reported.

“Some providers had complained that 2019 Medicare revenues were a poor proxy for their overall lost revenues or increased expenses due to COVID-19 because they are more dependent on Medicaid, for example. So, HHS switched the basis for final distribution to 2018 net patient revenues,” explained Brian Ellsworth, vice president for public policy and payment transformation with Health Dimensions Group. 

Ellsworth added that since 2018, net patient revenues are older data it should theoretically be more reflective of an overall financial picture than just Medicare revenues. 

“Older cost reports are more complete and are more likely to have been audited, but sometimes will not reflect more recent programmatic changes undertaken by a provider (e.g., expanding into a new service line). No distribution methodology is perfect. HHS has had to balance speed of distributing funds with accuracy,” Ellsworth told McKnight’s

Today’s a data deadline

HHS has also recently clarified the deadline for long-term care providers to submit their revenue data to get the COVID-19 relief funding, according to the nation’s largest nursing home association.

The agency clarified that today’s deadline to submit revenue data is only for providers who received the first tranche of funding and would like to submit financial information to receive additional payment, American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said. 

AHCA/NCAL also warned that “providers would still be required to ensure that their General Distribution payment is the lesser of 2 percent of their provider net revenue or the sum of incurred losses for March and April.”