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The HHS once again extended the deadline to apply for pandemic relief grants through the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. Dentists now have through Sept. 13 to apply. The previous application deadline was set for Aug. 28.
Article updated Aug. 26 to communicate the new Sept. 13 deadline extension. Also read the CDA article published Aug. 27 for the latest information.
Dentists now have through Sept. 13 to apply for pandemic relief grants through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. The previous application deadline was set for Friday, Aug. 28, but all dentists with a tax identification number now have until Sept. 13 to apply for the federal funding.
Second opportunity for some Medicare providers
The first round of relief distribution in April was automatically disbursed to providers who bill Medicare. Due to the lack of Medicare dental benefit, most dentists do not bill the Medicare program. Some dentists who received small Medicare disbursements were unfortunately excluded from the July dental provider general distribution because they had already received some funds in April.
To ensure fairness in administration of the relief fund, the HHS announced that beginning Aug. 10, providers who received small Medicare disbursements can also apply by Sept. 13 for additional funding. Although those providers are not guaranteed to receive additional funds, the HHS will consider all applications for the balance of their additional funding up to 2% of their annual patient revenues.
The HHS in a news release stated it hopes the extended deadline provides additional flexibility while “recognizing the constraints on smaller practices already operating on thin margins with administrative staff.”
‘Apply without hesitation,” says CDA member Dr. Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes, DDS, urges his fellow CDA members and California dentists to apply without hesitation, if eligible.
Dr. Barnes, who runs an associate practice and a surgery center in Visalia, said he submitted his final application July 9 and on July 28 received his funds through two direct deposits to cover losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The federal grants will go a long way toward covering my costs of overhauling the infection control systems in my offices,” Barnes said. He has invested in numerous barriers, equipment and supplies to upgrade the office after consulting with and taking input from his staff.
“The application maybe was not the easiest, but I’d do it again as many times as I could for the amount of relief I received,” Barnes said.
Since Barnes applied, HHS has updated its FAQs and hosted a webinar to help providers through the application process. The recorded webinar is available for providers who have not yet applied. Providers who have questions about the application process can also call the provider support line at 866.569.3522 to speak with a live representative.
Eligibility and the basics
The Provider Relief Fund, which is intended to help health care providers suffering economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides eligible dentists a reimbursement of 2% of their annual reported patient revenue. The fund was created by the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. HHS has partnered with UnitedHealth Group to deliver the funds.
To be eligible, the HHS’ FAQ states that an applicant must either:
A) Be a dental service provider who has either (i) directly billed health insurance companies for oral healthcare-related services, or (ii) owns (on the application date) an included subsidiary that has directly billed health insurance companies for oral healthcare-related services; or
B) Be a licensed dental service provider who does not accept insurance and has either (i) directly billed patients for oral healthcare-related services, or (ii) who owns (on the application date) an included subsidiary that does not accept insurance and has directly billed patients for oral healthcare-related services.
Barnes said the initial TIN validation takes 24-48 hours while step two of the application asks for quarterlies and tax filing downloads. He therefore recommends his peers “move on this soon” and have their documents prepared to speed up the process.
Within 90 days of receiving Provider Relief Funds, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the payment.
HHS continues to regularly update the Dental Distribution FAQ and the General Overview FAQ about the Provider Relief Fund. Also read the CDA article published July 22 for clarification on the balance billing prohibition in the application terms and conditions. An article published earlier this month provides additional details about the relief fund, including the distribution methodology. Resources cited in article and other helpful documents
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund: Providers webpage Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal HRSA’s recorded webcast for Medicaid and Dental Distributions (name and email address required to access) Instructions for the distribution for Medicaid, CHIP and dental providers CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal User Guide