Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Negotiations on Stimulus Continue After Trump Reversal

President Trump announced last week that he had ordered his officials and Republicans in Congress to stop negotiations on the next coronavirus stimulus until after the election, and to instead focus on confirming his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Prior to the President’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in the midst of negotiations on the $2.2 trillion aid proposal from Democrats and the $1.6 trillion proposal backed by the White House. In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi stated that the remaining areas of disagreement included funding for unemployment insurance, money for schools and state and local governments, amounts for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, restrictions on the use of money for testing, and a $44 billion gap on appropriated discretionary funding.

The President reversed course on Friday, endorsing a $1.8 trillion offer, and negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin took place over the weekend. The White House proposal has been met with concern by Senate Republicans, who are unsure whether to support the overall cost of the measure and stand in opposition to some of its provisions, including the expansion of Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits. The Senate is in recess until October 19 and the House is in recess until midNovember, but lawmakers have been told they can be called back with 24 hoursnotice to vote on a stimulus deal.

Senators Request Change to Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

Separate groups of Senate Republicans and Democrats have sent letters to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar calling on the administration to change the reporting requirements for CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (PRF) grants, which could require some hospitals to return millions of dollars to the government. As part of the newly released reporting requirements, HHS made technical changes to the definition and calculation of “expenses” and “lost revenue” attributable to COVID-19 for relief fund recipients. Senators urge Azar to “reinstate the original June requirements for determining lost revenue in order to prevent unnecessary financial uncertainty for hospitals.” The Republican letter was signed by 30 senators, and the Democratic letter was signed by 22 senators.

Now Open: Phase 3 Application Portal for the Provider Relief Fund

On October 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a schedule for distribution of an additional $20 billion in funds from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (PRF) “that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus” (also known as the Phase 3 distribution). Eligible providers have an application deadline of November 6, 2020. The application portal is located here, and HHS has detailed the general process for applying here, including application instructions and sample application form. In addition, HHS has recently posted a fact sheet, toolkit and presentation on Phase 3 as well as updating its FAQs. HHS is hosting a webcast on October 15 at 3 pm ET. Click here to register for the webcast.

All providers receiving more than $10,000 are subject to key reporting requirements, with the first deadline for reporting February 15, 2021. For the reporting elements, visit here, along with a summary of those requirements here. In addition, as noted within the reporting requirements document, all providers that expend more than $750,000 in Federal funds (including PRF and the Paycheck Protection Program funds) will be subject to additional audit requirements. For additional information, visit the Reporting Requirements and Auditing page and read the Auditing and Reporting Requirements FAQs. More information related to this program can be found on the Provider Relief Fund website.

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