The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has clarified that hospices may consider reduced fundraising and philanthropic dollars as lost revenue in their applications to the Provider Relief Fund, established to help mitigate the financial blows brought on the COVID-19 outbreak.
The CARES Act, enacted on March 27, earmarked $175 billion to health care providers across the continuum through the Provider Relief Fund. HHS indicated that lost fundraising income was applicable in a letter to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Association (NHPCO). The industry group had requested the clarification from the agency on behalf of its members.
“After reimbursing health care-related expenses attributable to coronavirus that were unreimbursed by other sources, providers may use remaining [provider relief funds] to cover any lost revenue, measured as a negative change in year-over-year actual revenue from patient care-related sources,” HHS officials said in the letter. “PRF funds may be used to reimburse lost revenue attributable to coronavirus, and lost fundraising and thrift store revenue may qualify as reimbursable lost revenue.”
Confusion over the issue stemmed from apparently conflicting guidance from HHS. The department issued guidance on the fund on June 19, 2020 that defined “lost revenue” as any revenue that a health care provider lost due to coronavirus. Later HHS guidance released in September, indicated that reportable lost revenue under the Provider Relief Fund Rules is limited to “revenue/net charges from patient care.”
Philanthropy and fundraising often finance programs such as palliative care services, complementary therapies, hospice houses as well as programs for the homeless, among other initiatives.
“To calculate lost revenues attributable to coronavirus, providers are required to report revenues received from Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurance, and other sources for patient care services,” the HHS letter said. “Providers should report fundraising and thrift store revenue in 2019 and 2020 as a revenue source if it was raised to fund patient care services”.