Available Now: HHS Frequently Asked Questions Regarding General Distribution Portal
April 27, 2020: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now made available a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding its General Distribution Portal. Providers are using this portal to verify certain revenue information necessary to apply for portions of the second wave of $20 billion from the general $50 billion allocation under HHS’ provider relief fund (the Relief Fund). These FAQs are separate and apart from HHS’ funding application User Guide, which we addressed in a recent client update, Open Now: HHS General Distribution Portal.
While some of the FAQs reaffirm prior guidance from HHS, the following bullet points summarize a few of the noteworthy pieces of new information:
- Providers who have not already received an initial payment from the Relief Fund as of 5 p.m. EST Friday, April 24, 2020, are not eligible to use the General Distribution Portal to apply for a portion of the second $20 billion wave. However, such providers may be eligible for future payments from the Relief Fund.
- HHS provided a rationale for some of its data collection: “gross receipts or sales” or “program service revenue” data will be used to analyze a provider’s usual operations, and revenue loss information will be used to analyze the COVID-19 impact on such a provider. HHS will also use tax forms to verify self-reported information, as well as organizational structure data, to ensure it is not overpaying or underpaying providers who file tax returns covering multiple legal entities.
- To estimate lost revenue during March or April 2020, providers may use “reasonable” methods such as comparing revenue during March and April 2020 to the same period had COVID-19 not appeared. For example, if a provider prepared a budget without taking into account the impact of COVID-19, the estimated lost revenue could be the difference between the provider’s budgeted revenue and actual revenue. HHS also views it to be reasonable to compare the March or April 2020 revenues to the same period last year.
- Funds will not be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis. HHS will be processing applications in batches every Wednesday at noon EST, and an applicant will be given equal consideration regardless of when they apply during that week. However, in our view, while providers may not be penalized for applying at different points during any particular week, given the prior guidance instructing that funds will be disbursed on a rolling weekly basis, providers intending to apply for a portion of the additional funding would still be well advised to do so as soon as possible, given that, obviously at some point, this second $20 billion allocation will be exhausted.
- HHS’ goal is to distribute additional funds to a provider within 10 business days of its application—to the extent the provider qualifies for additional funding. Providers who do not receive additional funds will still receive a response from HHS within this same 10 business day period.
- Apart from an email confirming completion of a provider’s application, the provider will receive no notification from HHS as to the status of its application once submitted.
- There is no appeals or dispute process for providers who disagree with the amount of additional funding they received. HHS is not taking direct inquiries from providers, and no remedy or appeals process will be available.
We encourage any provider considering applying for additional Relief Fund payments to review the FAQs carefully. We will continue to review HHS’ guidance and provide further updates as appropriate. For questions about provider relief funding options and requirements, please contact Jed Roebuck, Mark Cunningham, or a member of our Chambliss Health Care team.
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The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings, and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. In some cases, the underlying legal information is changing quickly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Please contact your legal counsel for advice regarding specific situations.