Dentists and other providers who can document pandemic-related revenue loss and increased expenses can apply for relief through the federal Provider Relief Fund Sept. 29 through Oct. 26, 2021.
An additional $17 billion will be available for distribution to a “broad range of providers” – including dentists – through the Phase 4 general distribution, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All California dentists are eligible to apply for the Provider Relief Fund and do not have to be Medicare or Medi-Cal Dental Program providers to receive funding.
“PRF will reimburse smaller providers – who tend to operate on thin margins and often serve vulnerable or isolated communities for their lost revenues and COVID-19 expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers,” the Sept. 10 HHS news release states. The news release did not provide an application deadline, but a deadline of Oct. 26 has since been established.
The Provider Relief Fund was established in 2020 by the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help health care providers suffering economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, CDA members who applied in previous rounds shared how they’ve been able to use the funds they received.
As long as the recipient complies with all terms and conditions, the distributions do not need to be repaid. More details are forthcoming, and application portal has not yet opened, but the HHS has clarified the following:
CDA reported on all previous PRF phases. The earliest phases were targeted at Medicare and Medi-Cal Dental Program (Denti-Cal) providers. Subsequent payments were opened to all dentists or newly practicing dentists, regardless of payer source.
In a poll CDA conducted last September, 92% of members who said they applied for funds during one of the first two PRF phases said they received funding.
The HHS encourages applicants to start gathering supporting documentation, such as their most recent tax documents and financial statements (for the second half of calendar year 2020 and the first quarter of calendar year 2021), before they apply.
Dentists can apply now through the HHS’ application portal and should first read the application instructions. Other application resources are available, including a "how to apply" flowchart.