In an August 24, 2021 letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) requested that HHS extend the deadline for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) recipients to report their use of funds until at least March 31, 2023, regardless of when funds were originally received.
In June, HHS extended the deadline for expending PRF payments for those recipients who received payments after June 30, 2020. But MGMA is concerned that those medical groups that received $10,000 or more in PRF monies between April 10 and June 30, 2020 will struggle to complete reporting by the upcoming September 30, 2021 reporting deadline.
The letter illuminates the challenges with the imminent September 30 deadline for many. Health care providers continue to struggle with ambiguity around acceptable uses of funds and question what documentation would be necessary to substantiate that a particular expense is “attributable to coronavirus [and] not reimbursed by other sources.” For the reporting of general and administrative expenses, MGMA notes that it remains unclear to providers whether such expenses would need to be incremental (i.e., would need to demonstrate a clear increase from normal or budgeted expenditures due to the pandemic).
This request comes as reports emerge that about $44 billion of PRF monies remain unspent. Many providers who received PRF payments may be forced to return some of those funds if they cannot navigate the complex rules and ambiguities for accounting for COVID expenses or lost revenue that are necessary to justify keeping those funds.
Providers also remain concerned that Congress could allocate unspent COVID-19 provider relief funds as a funding source for infrastructure funding.
MGMA asked HHS to revise its PRF reporting requirements by collapsing the current four reporting periods (including the looming September 30 deadline) into a single reporting period at the conclusion of the COVID-19 public health emergency in order to allow providers to meet the demands of treating COVID-19 patients as the pandemic "rages on." HHS would also benefit from the additional time to allow the department to simplify and clarify the PRF reporting requirements, the MGMA argued.