AHCA: HHS Announces the Distribution of the Additional $5 Billion

Esq Stephen Hanse and Carl Pucci in Clinical & Quality

Below is an announcement from Mark Parkinson, President & CEO of AHCA/NCAL:

Late Friday afternoon I received a call from HHS and received a briefing on the decisions HHS has made relating to the additional $5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds set aside for skilled nursing facilities. HHS announced this funding on July 22 and I learned more details about the plans for distributing funds today. While we did not get exactly what we wanted, I’m pleased to let you know that every member will receive more funds and every member has the opportunity to receive critical additional money in the coming months. In this memo, I will explain the distribution, as described to me, and then discuss the work we have left to do. 

First, let me tell you that some of the important details are not yet final. HHS has issued a press release describing the distribution. You will note that I’m giving you more detail in this memo than is described in the press release. That is because I’m telling you what was told to me. Sometimes stakeholder briefings, like the one I had this afternoon, provide details that may differ from the final versions. I’m worried about that because I’m going to give you some very specific numbers that were verbally described to me. These numbers are not totally solid without further confirmation and an opportunity to see the final written plans, but I want to let you know what I know as of today. 

$2.5 Billion Going Out in the Next 10 Days 
Every Provider Will Get a Payment 

In the next 10 days, each facility should receive funds in a manner similar to how funds were delivered with the first three tranches. This is not an application process. It will simply be transferred into your accounts.  

HHS is directing that you spend the money on testing, PPE, and/or staffing. I was told that it will be within your discretion to decide in which category or categories you spend the money. We do not yet have information on how this will be audited but you should keep good records. We still expect CMS to mandate staff testing in all states that have a 5% positivity rate or higher. They haven’t done that yet but have publicly announced it is coming.  

HHS’s briefing today was that an average building that has received one of the on-site testing machines will receive an AVERAGE of around $90,000. We don’t know what the variables are to determine the actual amount. I assume bed count would be a logical way to adjust the amount, but we don’t know yet. If you haven’t received a testing machine, the AVERAGE to each facility will be about $170,000. Again, we don’t know the variables that determine how facilities would receive more or less than the $170,000 average. The rationale seems to be that without a machine, testing costs will be higher. 

$2 Billion Goes to Buildings That Keep COVID Rates Low in September, October, November and December 

HHS wants to reward buildings that are successful in keeping COVID out of buildings, or at low levels. As a result, $500 million will be distributed to providers that are successful in doing so. Below is what we know about the program. 

  1. There will be four one-month measuring periods; September, October, November and December of 2020. 
  2. Buildings whose average new case count of COVID-19 is at or below other buildings in the same county will receive a payment. We do not yet have details on how this will be calculated. 
  3. Each month is a new counting period and there is a separate payment each month. If you miss out in September, you can still succeed in October, November etc. There will be a total of four separate payments.  
  4. They will pull the data from the CDC NHSN portal to calculate this information and make these payments. 
  5. New residents who are positive upon admission do not count against a facility for this incentive payment.  
  6. We don’t know how much the payments will be, but if half of all buildings qualify, and HHS does not use other qualifiers, we estimate that the average monthly payment would be in the $70,000 range.  

Obviously, the details here will really matter. We believe HHS will listen to advice on how to implement the program. 

WE WILL WORK WITH YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY TO MAKE SURE THAT AHCA MEMBERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE POSSIBLE TO QUALIFY FOR THESE PAYMENTS. Giff and the Quality team are already working on tools to give you the best possible chance to succeed and we will be rolling these out soon. 

The Rest of the $500 Million and What is Left

In addition, HHS will award $250 million to facilities that set up isolation wings or COVID- only buildings. Again, we don’t know the details yet. The final $250 million will go to special efforts to work with outside groups on stopping the spread of the virus. We don’t know the details on this either. We hope to know more on both soon. 

What’s left? COVID-19 hotspots. We’ve heard loud and clear from you that those hit hard by the virus need additional support. We know that and the data reflects that. We will keep up the fight for that support. There were several factors that came together this week that made that payment impossible here. But we will continue to fight for it, both with HHS and with the stimulus bill before Congress. 

This allocation is not perfect by any means, but we hope it assists you in what we know is an epic battle to fight against this virus. As we get details, we will get them to you, and just as you aren’t giving up your fight, we aren’t giving up the fight here either. The battle continues.

Mark Parkinson
President & CEO, AHCA/NCAL

NYSHFA/NYSCAL CONTACTS:

Stephen B. Hanse, Esq.
President & CEO
518-462-4800 x11

Carl J. Pucci
Chief Financial Officer
518-462-4800 x36