Practices push for Provider Relief Fund extension to grapple with ‘laborious’ requirements, COVID surge

Physician practices are pushing the federal government to extend the deadline for Provider Relief Funds as they grapple with “laborious” reporting requirements and a COVID-19 resurgence.

Radiologists and other doctors who collected such pandemic-related assistance between April 10 and June 30, 2020, must report on their use of the funds by September’s end. But the Medical Group Management Association is concerned about the pressure this fast-approaching deadline places on providers still reeling from the public health crisis.

In a Tuesday letter, MGMA urged Health and Human Services to delay the deadline until at least March 31, 2023, regardless of when funds were received.

“In considering the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the country coupled with the complex and arduous reporting requirements of the program, MGMA is concerned that many medical groups will struggle to complete reporting by the upcoming September 30, 2021, reporting deadline,” Senior VP, Government Affairs, Anders Gilberg wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Aug. 24.

MGMA represents more than 15,000 medical practices, employing 350,000 physicians in radiology and other specialties. A recent survey of its members found that 70% received relief, with most during phase 1 of distribution, meaning they must meet the upcoming deadline. Gilberg noted that many physician groups are already struggling with staffing to meet patient demand. Dedicating extra employees hours toward meeting an “arbitrary” deadline amid a pandemic is “unreasonable,” he wrote, especially for small groups or those in rural and underserved areas.

Back in June, HHS allowed physicians more time to use relief payments, both establishing rolling deadlines and extending the timeline for reporting use of funds. MGMA additionally asked the agency to clarify existing reporting guidance and address ongoing “confusion” with the requirements.

Consulting firm Healthcare Administrative Partners also issued guidance for radiology practices on Wednesday, detailing how to register and report to HHS ahead of next month’s due date.

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