Emergency COVID-19 Funds Portal Now Open; Big Questions Remain
By David Doolittle

2.2 guidelines

The federal Health and Human Services (HHS) Department continues to update information and tools for physicians and other health care professionals and facilities that are eligible to receive $30 billion from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.

And physicians with questions and concerns continue to contact the Texas Medical Association, which has reached out to HHS for clarity.

HHS began dispersing the funds April 10 and expects to have allocated the full $30 billion by early May.

Physicians who want to confirm their eligibility for the grants or who have other questions can call the HHS Provider Relief hotline at (866) 569-3522. HHS is reporting high call volumes.

HHS partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to deliver the stimulus payments. Physicians or practices that have not already set up direct deposit through CMS or UHG’s Optum Pay will receive a check at a later date. Practices that would like to set up direct deposit now can call the Provider Relief hotline.

In addition, the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal is now open. Physicians who have been allocated funds must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions within 30 days of payment. Of special note, practices that choose to reject the funds still must complete the attestation indicating their refusal.

 However, Texas physicians and TMA are still justifiably concerned about several of the terms and conditions, specifically: 

  • “The recipient certifies that it will not use the payment to reimburse expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources or that other sources are obligated to reimburse;” and
  • “None of the funds appropriated in this title shall be used to pay the salary of an individual, through a grant or other extramural mechanism, at a rate in excess of Executive Level II.”

TMA still awaits clarification from HHS.

Earlier this week, HHS changed some of the requirements to say that “Care does not have to be specific to treating COVID-19. HHS broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.” Health care professionals no longer have to attest to "currently" taking care of patients, just that they did so after Jan. 31.

Last Updated On

April 16, 2020

Originally Published On

April 16, 2020

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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