Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the first disbursement from the $100 billion CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.
HHS is distributing $30 billion immediately with payments arriving via direct deposit starting today, April 10, 2020. These are payments, not loans, to health care providers, and will not need to be repaid.
All facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and providers that received Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements in 2019 are eligible for this initial rapid distribution.
ASGE led the effort to develop a letter, signed by other medical specialty societies, that was sent to HHS on March 31. In the letter, the societies asked that physician practices and ASCs that have been or will be adversely affected by the pandemic — not just those providing diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID–19 — be eligible for relief through the fund.
Providers will be distributed a portion of the initial $30 billion based on their share of total Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. All relief payments will be made to the billing organization according to its Taxpayer Identification Number.
HHS has partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to provide rapid payment to providers eligible for this initial distribution. Providers will be paid via Automated Clearing House account information on file with UHG or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The automatic payments will come to providers via Optum Bank with "HHSPAYMENT" as the payment description. Providers who normally receive a paper check for reimbursement from CMS will receive a paper check in the mail for this payment within the next few weeks.
Within 30 days of receiving the payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions of payment. Check the portal for signing the attestation, which will open the week of April 13, 2020.
It is important to note this distribution of funds is not related to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.
Find out more information about disbursement from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. Review ASGE’s topline summary of the CARES Act.