COVID-19 relief funding can be used for vaccine distribution + 5 other updates

HHS has updated its frequently asked questions page to clarify how hospitals and health systems can use federal COVID-19 relief funding.

Congress allocated $175 billion in funding this spring to providers to offset incurred expenses and lost revenues attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has continually updated guidance about these grants and issued several clarifications Oct. 28. 

Here are six clarifications:

1. HHS said the grants must be used in full by June 30, 2021. 

2. The grants can be used to fund vaccine distribution. HHS said providers can use it to buy storage supplies and offset transportation costs or personnel costs. The funds can’t be used to help pay for acquiring the vaccine doses. 

3. HHS reiterated that providers must calculate lost revenue by comparing revenue from all of 2019 to 2020. The agency said the change was made to revenue-reporting rules so providers don’t become more profitable than 2019. 

4. Providers can use the funds to offset some employee salaries, HHS said. Specifically, providers can use the funds to pay full-time or part-time direct employee salaries, contract labor and temporary worker expenses as long as they are not reimbursed from other sources. Providers can’t use the funds to pay salaries in excess of $197,300.

5. In the event that a provider is returning relief funds and the funds were held in an interest-bearing account, providers must return the accrued interest.

6. HHS will allow providers an opportunity to submit corrected data as part of the COVID-19 high impact area distribution or nursing home quality incentive payment. Providers must submit corrected data up to five business days after the submission deadline and a justification for why the data was incorrect. 

Read more of the guidelines here. 

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