• October 18, 2021

Suppliers have unanswered questions forward of COVID-19 grant reporting deadline

Sep 25, 2021

For some healthcare suppliers, assembly subsequent week’s deadline for reporting on their federal COVID-19 grant spending is shaping as much as be a mad scramble.

Accountants serving to suppliers prepare for the Sept. 30 deadline to report on the primary tranche of Supplier Reduction Fund spending say even those that’ve been ready for weeks have official questions on the way to transfer ahead. Congress accepted $178 billion to assist suppliers climate the unprecedented disaster, however many within the healthcare business say the Well being and Human Providers Division’s steering on the way to account for that cash has been complicated and unclear.

For essentially the most half, these which are “totally unprepared” are usually smaller and do not view themselves as sufficiently big to should report back to the federal government, stated Anna Stevens, partner-in-charge for healthcare on the accounting agency Weaver. Suppliers that spent greater than $10,000 in grant cash should report that to HHS, and people who spent greater than $750,000 can be topic to audits.

“I actually get emails day by day that say: ‘What are we imagined to do? What reporting module? What are you speaking about?'” Stevens stated.

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The Sept. 30 deadline, the primary for reporting Supplier Reduction Fund grants, covers funds obtained between April 10, 2020, and June 30, 2020. The deadline to spend that cash was June 30, 2021.

The American Hospital Affiliation continues to hunt extra time for its members to make use of their grants.

In a letter despatched to appearing Well being Assets and Providers Administration Administrator Diana Espinosa Friday, the commerce group requested the company prolong the June 30, 2021, deadline to spend cash obtained between April 10, 2020 by June 30, 2020. Properly over half of the grant cash went out earlier than June 30, 2020, a lot of it to hospitals in high-impact areas serving weak populations, AHA Government Vice President Stacey Hughes wrote.

HHS tacked on a 60-day grace interval to the Sept. 30 reporting deadline, however many suppliers have indicated they do not plan to make use of that, hoping as an alternative to get it performed and out of thoughts.

The Medical Middle Well being System in Odessa, Texas, is amongst people who do not plan to reap the benefits of the grace interval, stated Grant Trollope, the corporate’s assistant chief monetary officer. The Medical Middle Well being System includes a 402-bed hospital and doctor practices.

“We do exactly need to get it behind us and transfer on to the subsequent chapter,” Trollope stated.

A possible drawback tax specialists have recognized with utilizing the grace interval is it technically doesn’t adjust to the Workplace of Administration and Price range’s compliance directions for auditing the funds. That is complicated as a result of auditors look to the OMB compliance directions that require them to carry out audits, Stevens stated. Nevertheless, the companies are more likely to align their requirements, she stated.

Maybe a good greater space of confusion is HHS’ latest announcement of a fourth distribution section for Supplier Reduction Fund grants. That last pool consists of $25.5 billion, and is supposed to cowl misplaced income and better spending between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

That point window consists of the interval throughout which suppliers had been additionally spending cash they’re going to report within the first section of distributions, which had for use by June 30, 2021. The query many suppliers are asking is whether or not they need to save a few of these bills and misplaced revenues for his or her fourth-phase purposes, as an alternative of reporting them for his or her first-phase grants by Sept. 30, stated Rick Kes, the accounting firm RSM’s senior analyst for healthcare.

The phase-one reporting portal requires suppliers to record COVID-19 bills that their aid grants didn’t cowl. One other query is whether or not suppliers who do not need to put within the effort to establish these bills can be caught as soon as section 4 comes round, Kes stated.

“That is the complicated half,” Kes stated. “There are items right here that relate to one another however we’re undecided how dependent they’re on one another.”

The phase-four purposes are more likely to come out simply days earlier than the Sept. 30 deadline to report section one, so suppliers will not have a lot time to resolve the way to proceed, Kes stated.

“Most shoppers that I speak to have all their information within the portal,” Kes stated. “They’re simply form of ready to hit submit and attempting to determine: Ought to I do this, or ought to I wait and work out extra in regards to the phase-four software?”

Suppliers are also unsure about what they’ll and can’t rely as incremental bills associated to COVID-19 for the aim of accepting the grant cash.

That is notably true with regards to payroll. For instance, an worker on the entrance of a hospital screening folks’s temperatures would clearly rely as a result of that individual wouldn’t have been there earlier than the pandemic, Stevens stated. What’s much less clear could be a heart specialist who stopped treating her common sufferers and as an alternative completely noticed COVID-19 sufferers. Hospitals have generally redeployed medical specialists to look after COVID-19 sufferers all through the disaster.

The primary differentiator is whether or not that supplier would have been there whatever the presence of COVID-19 sufferers. If the reply is sure, it isn’t an incremental price. Nevertheless, if the hospital paid them additional time or bonus pay to deal with COVID-19 sufferers, these bills are included, Stevens stated.

One other murky space is telehealth. Considered one of Stevens’ shoppers wished to make use of grants on authorized bills associated to telehealth. However the supplier had used telehealth earlier than the pandemic, making it was unclear whether or not the prices had been associated to COVID-19, she stated. In the end, that supplier was capable of present that these outlays had been related to bringing on physicians who solely performed COVID-19 telehealth visits, she stated.

HHS amended its steering a number of occasions on how suppliers ought to calculate misplaced income for the aim of demonstrating how the aid funds had been spent.

The ultimate steering ended up being favorable to suppliers. That is as a result of quarters the place they noticed monetary beneficial properties weren’t netted towards the quarters the place they misplaced cash, stated Aparna Venkateswaran, a senior supervisor with Moss Adams For instance, if, over a six-quarter interval, a supplier skilled three quarters with $1 million of beneficial properties every and three quarters with $1 million in losses every, that supplier would get to report $3 million in misplaced income, whatever the beneficial properties, she stated.

That is welcome information for healthcare entities that had been involved about having the ability to proceed utilizing their grant cash at the same time as their funds enhance. Returning sufferers and continued authorities help pushed some well being techniques’ working margins previous 10% within the second quarter of 2021.

However there’s nonetheless loads that is unclear about how a robust 2021 monetary efficiency will have an effect on a suppliers’ capacity to report bills and misplaced income for PRF grants, Venkateswaran stated. “It’s actually a wild card on how that is going to look,” she stated.

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