In January, many eye doctors were excited, hey 2020 was supposed to be the Year of the Optometrist, right? Well, everything came crashing down when mid-March hit, thanks to a certain, highly contagious respiratory illness. While there has certainly been a lot of negative repercussions with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and public health crisis, there have been a few responses that elicit hope and elation.
The CARES Act Provider Relief fund through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has helped many practice owners across the country. In fact, many practitioners were delighted to find a large sum of money directly deposited in their business accounts around mid-June.
The program, according to a recent HHS email, states that:
“$50 billion of the Provider Relief Fund is allocated for general distribution to Medicare facilities and providers impacted by COVID-19, based on eligible providers' net patient revenue. The initial $30 billion was distributed between April 10 and April 17, and distribution of the remaining $20 billion began April 24.”
According to HHS, in order for a provider to be eligible for the General Distribution, “a provider must have billed Medicare fee-for-service 2 in 2019 and provide or provided after January 31, 2020 diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19. HHS broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.
Here is a quick 6 bullet point update:
(1) What amount of funds can I expect to receive from the HHS grant?
The HHS grant amount should equal 2% of your gross receipts. For some reason the HHS website decided on this complicated calculation:
Gross Receipts or Sales / 2,500,000,000,000) X 50,000,000,000 = Expected Combined General Distribution
.....Which is the same thing. We advocate for better algebra education for the HHS for any future distributions.
(2) Do I need to pay back the funds?
(3) Do I need to attest to receiving these funds?
(4) I do not participate in seeing Medicare patients, will I still get anything?
As far as we know, unfortunately no.
(5) What type of revenue does this count as and how do I calculate taxes?
At this time, these are unknowns. The HHS website has stated that data on this will be released at a later time.
(6) Help! I am a Medicare provider and I have not received any funds. What should I do?
The best advice we can give is to call HHS. There may be an error regarding bank account information or even personal information such as email address. Their phone line is friendly and can help walk you through any hiccups that may have prevented you from receiving your funds: 866-569-3522