CMS is giving providers an extra two months to file their annual cost reports, an extension that's likely to bring relief to hospitals struggling with influxes of coronavirus patients.
Providers typically get five months from when their reporting period ends to file the reports, which are required for any provider that accepts Medicare, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and others. Now, they'll get that plus a 60-day extension, the agency announced this week in a frequently asked questions update.
Cost reports contain a wealth of information on providers' facilities, volumes and finances, including their costs and charges, uncompensated care and wage information. Unlike health systems' quarterly and annual financial reports, which allow them to report at the system-wide level, cost reports are done at the individual facility level.
Hospitals' finance teams are actively working to account for their Provider Relief Fund grants, which were part of the federal government's pandemic relief package. That plus the cost report filing requirement means their plates are full, said Rick Kes, RSM's healthcare industry senior analyst
"Just administratively, to get the cost report completed takes time and effort, and health systems undoubtedly are focused on a lot of other things right now, needless to say," Kes said.
For cost reporting periods ended March 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, providers will get an additional 60 days from their original due dates to file the reports, CMS said.
That's in addition to cost report deadlines CMS had already extended. For example, July 31, 2020, deadlines were extended to Sept. 30, 2020. May 31 and June 30 deadlines were pushed to Aug. 31.
The 2020 cost reports will have an added wrinkle of complexity in that they'll include facilities' Provider Relief Fund grants. CMS' explainer also included instructions on how and where to report that money in cost reports.