Coronavirus update for Monday, April 27 as of 3:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

Last Friday HHS deposited its second tranche of CARES Act funding in hospitals’ bank accounts.  We have contacted HHS to inquire about the specifics of the funding formula, whether there are additional future attestation requirements, the timing for the next round of payments, and more.

In the meantime, providers that received Provider Relief Payments in either round of funding should visit the CARES Act General Distribution Portal, where you will be able to provide data that HHS may use to calculate payment distributions from the Provider Relief Fund.  (Other useful resources:  the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund web page and an FAQ on the General Distribution Portal.  Also, please note: the General Distribution Portal is not the same as the Attestation Portal.)

Specifically, the portal is collecting the following four pieces of information:

  1. a provider’s “Gross Receipts or Sales” or “Program Service Revenue” as submitted on its federal income tax return;
  2. the provider’s estimated revenue losses in March 2020 and April 2020 due to COVID;
  3. a copy of the provider’s most recently filed federal income tax return; and
  4. a listing of the tax identification numbers any of the provider’s subsidiary organizations that have received relief funds but that DO NOT file separate tax returns.

In addition, providers can submit separate applications for CARES Act funding for any additional entities that received Provider Relief Fund payments and that also filed a separate tax return for 2017, 2018, or 2019.  See the provider relief fund page and FAQ for further details.

HHS has updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund web page. Included is a new update on the distribution of remaining funds designated for providers in the CARES Act and what providers need to do to receive their share of these funds.  It also reminds providers that they must agree to the terms and conditions of this funding through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal.

HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this afternoon opened a web portal through which providers can submit claims for payment for COVID-19-related services they have provided to uninsured patients.  As described in an HHS news release,

Health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 can request claims reimbursement through the program electronically and will be reimbursed generally at Medicare rates, subject to available funding. Steps will involve: enrolling as a provider participant, checking patient eligibility, submitting patient information, submitting claims, and receiving payment via direct deposit.

To participate, providers must attest to the following at registration:

  • You have checked for health care coverage eligibility and confirmed that the patient is uninsured. You have verified that the patient does not have coverage such as individual, employer-sponsored, Medicare or Medicaid coverage, and no other payer will reimburse you for COVID-19 testing and/or care for that patient
  • You will accept defined program reimbursement as payment in full.
  • You agree not to balance bill the patient.
  • You agree to program terms and conditions and may be subject to post-reimbursement audit review.

The new web page also includes information about covered services, claims submission, and claims reimbursement.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS has announced that it is re-evaluating the amounts it will have available for Part A providers with new and pending applications under its Accelerated Payment Program and is suspending its Advance Payment Program for Medicare Part B suppliers effective immediately.  Now that Congress has appropriated $175 billion for the grant-style “Provider Relief Fund,” CMS is shifting away from the cash advance approach of the Advance and Accelerated Payment Programs.  Part B suppliers will no longer be able to apply for the Advance Payment Program and CMS will be re-evaluating the amounts available for Part A providers with new and pending applications under the Accelerated Payment Program.  Previously, Part A and Part B providers were able to request an advance on Medicare fee-for-service payments up to a maximum value of six months’ worth of payments.  See CMS’s news release explaining its shift in approach and an updated fact sheet on the Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs.

CMS has updated its FAQ on Medicare fee-for-service billing.  In particular, the updated FAQ provided more specific information about use of the condition code “DR” and the modifier “CR” for claims for which Medicare payment is conditioned on the premise of a formal waiver.

CMS has informed state governments that it will hold constant the inspection domain of the Nursing Home Compare site due to the prioritization and suspension of certain surveys during the COVID-19 emergency to ensure that the rating system provides fair information for consumers.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC has updated its information for clinicians on therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients.

Food and Drug Administration

The FDA has issued a news release reiterating the importance of close patient supervision for off-label use of anti-malaria drugs to mitigate the known risks of those drugs.

The FDA will host a virtual town hall for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 29 at 12:15 (eastern).

The FDA has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for two COVID-19 serology tests (here and here) and for a reagent to be used in such serology tests.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA has issued interim enforcement guidance on reusing disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators that have been decontaminated.

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

The National Alliance of Safety-Net Hospitals has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.