Healthcare providers' eligibility for COVID-19 relief grants won't be limited to costs and lost revenue they incurred during the HHS-designated public health emergency, according to an agency official.
HHS Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo on Monday confirmed that the agency plans to renew the COVID-19 public health emergency designation for another 90 days. Providers had worried that allowing the emergency to expire on July 25 would automatically roll back increased payments and waived regulations the Trump administration and lawmakers adjusted to assist them during the COVID-19 pandemic as COVID-19 cases are again on the rise.
Providers also questioned whether the duration of the public health emergency would impact the amount of grant funds they would be eligible for under the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund lawmakers created.
In guidance on the relief grants, HHS said that any providers concerned about overpayments should calculate their expected "cumulative lost revenues and increased costs that are attributable to coronavirus during the COVID-19 public health emergency" to determine whether their grant payments were too large.
An HHS spokesperson clarified that the phrase "during the COVID-19 public health emergency" was not meant to be restrictive.
That means providers' eligibility for grants to cover their coronavirus-related costs and lost revenues may not be limited to the dates of the official public health emergency.
Healthcare providers can also receive reimbursement for costs related to COVID-19 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The application deadline for those funds is tied to the end of HHS' public health emergency declaration.
Hospitals will have a 30-day grace period to apply for FEMA reimbursement after the public health emergency ends, according to a FEMA memo.
FEMA funding tied to separate Stafford Act major disaster and national emergency declarations generally expires when the president declares the emergency has ended, said Nick Diamond, a consultant at Avalere.