Webinar: Bridging the Digital Divide for HCBS Beneficiaries (Part I)

The Department of Health & Human Services will host an important new webinar, “Bridging the Digital Divide for HCBS Beneficiaries,”  produced by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This webinar is part of a monthly series that invites subject matter experts and practitioners from across the…

HHS Tells Governors Public Health Emergency to Last All of 2021

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has written a letter to all the nation’s governors to inform them that the current public health emergency, caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, will last all of 2021 and possibly into 2022.

“To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we have determined that the PHE will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination”, reads the letter to governors.

“Predictability and stability are important given the foundation and flexibilities offered to states that are tied to the designation of the PHE. Among other things, the PHE determination provides for the ability to streamline and increase the accessibility of healthcare, such as the practice of telemedicine. It allows under section 1135 of the Social Security Act, in conjunction with a Presidential Declaration under the National Emergencies Act or Stafford Act, the Secretary to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule requirements. The goal is to ensure to the maximum extent feasible that, in an emergency area during an emergency period, sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals receiving Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP and that providers that furnish such items and services can be reimbursed for them and exempt from sanctions, absent fraud or abuse.”

The HHS letter warns governors to expect continued and possibly new use of emergency authorities to combat the virus.

“In light of the PHE extension, you can expect the continued use of other emergency authorities, including Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act declarations and emergency use authorizations (EUA) for diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The Department will consider the use of any available flexibility to aid states in their response to this PHE.”

HHS Tells Governors Public Health Emergency to Last All of 2021

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has written a letter to all the nation’s governors to inform them that the current public health emergency, caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, will last all of 2021 and possibly into 2022. “To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we…

HHS Announces Provider Relief Fund Reporting Update

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced on Friday, January 15, that it will be amend the reporting timeline for the Provider Relief Fund Program (PRF) due to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Consequently, PRF recipients will now be required to submit their reporting requirements on their use of these funds later than previously announced.

Starting today, however, PRF recipients may begin registering for gateway access to the Reporting Portal where they will ultimately submit their information in compliance with the new reporting requirements HHS is issuing.

The PRF Reporting Portal is now open for registration and is available here: https://prfreporting.hrsa.gov/s/

The updated reporting requirements are HERE.

A redline comparing the updated reporting requirements to the November 2020 version is HERE.

Reporting Portal Update & Registration Launch

Beginning last summer, HHS began outlining comprehensive reporting instructions that would apply to recipients of PRF funds that received payments exceeding $10,000 in aggregate. HHS previously planned to open the Reporting Portal based on this previously released information by January 15, 2021, with the first deadline for submissions on February 15, 2021. In late December, however, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which added another $3 billion in funding to the PRF program and included language specific to reporting requirements. HHS has been working to update the PRF reporting requirements to be consistent with this new law. HHS wanted to give recipients ample time to familiarize themselves with the updated reporting requirements well in advance of required submission deadlines.

HHS is encouraging all PRF recipients that have received aggregate PRF payments that exceed $10,000 to establish a reporting account by registering at the newly enabled PRF reporting website.

The reporting requirements released today do not apply to funds from: Nursing Home Infection Control, Rural Health Clinics Testing, and COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured recipients. While there is currently no deadline for providers to establish a reporting account in the newly enabled Reporting Portal, all providers will be required to complete this first step in order to advance and fulfill their reporting requirements once HHS announces the new deadline to do so. Provider support and call center resources are currently limited but will be more available to answer providers’ questions once the second phase for reporting submissions is announced.

More information about the new reporting requirements and portal registration can be found here.

Latest Payments:

As of the week of January 11, HHS has made the following total payments through both the General and Targeted Distributions of the PRF program:

  • $116,956,445,191 in payments to 644,091 provider TINs.
  • Of these payments, 403,235 providers (unique TINs) have attested to the Terms and Conditions for $101,933,833,186 in payments. A listing of PRF distributions to providers that have accepted the Terms and Conditions can be found here.

As of January 13, 2021, HHS has made COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing and Treatment of the Uninsured payments to 30,074 providers including:

  • Testing claims: $1,455,529,631
  • Treatment claims: $1,557,659,437

A listing of health care entities that have agreed to the Terms and Conditions and received claims reimbursement can be found here.

For more information on the Provider Relief Fund Program, visit hhs.gov/providerrelief.

HHS Announces Provider Relief Fund Reporting Update

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced on Friday, January 15, that it will be amend the reporting timeline for the Provider Relief Fund Program (PRF) due to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Consequently, PRF recipients will…

OCR Issues Audit Report on Health Care Industry Compliance with the HIPAA Rules

Late last month, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its 2016-2017 HIPAA Audits Industry Report that reviewed selected health care entities and business associates for compliance with certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. The Health Information Technology for Economic…

Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model Expansion

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced  late last week that the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model will be expanded, with implementation being created by rulemaking no earlier than January 1, 2022. NAHC is working to obtain additional information and share that in NAHC Report when it becomes available. A nationwide expansion was…

NAHC Urges Feds to Make Some COVID-Era Reforms Permanent

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) submitted comments in response to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) request for information on which COVID-19-related regulatory waivers and flexibilities should be made permanent – beyond the public health emergency (PHE) or remain temporary, and lapse when the PHE is over. HHS specifically…

OCR Issues Guidance on HIPAA, Health Information Exchanges, and Disclosures of Protected Health Information for Public Health Purposes

On Friday, December 18, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) permits covered entities and their business associates to use health information exchanges (HIEs) to disclose protected health information (PHI) for the…

HHS Wants Your View on Regulatory Changes

Which reg changes made during the pandemic should be permanent? Tell HHS now! The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has  issued a request for information (RFI) soliciting input from a broad array of health care stakeholders on the costs and benefits of the regulatory changes the agency has made in response to the…