Lucas commends HHS reversal of changes made to Provider Relief Fund

Following two letters U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting reversal of changes to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements, the congressman applauded the department for recently making such changes. 

“I am proud to have led these important letters to HHS, addressing concerns of the now revised reporting requirements for the PRF, which could adversely impact Oklahoma’s hospitals by ordering them to return this important funding created by Congress,” Rep. Lucas said. “The pandemic is far from over, and those on the frontlines day in and day out deserve stability and certainty, as they dedicate and commit their lives for the health of our communities.”

After receiving feedback from members of Congress and other stakeholders, HHS announced on Oct. 22 that it will amend its reporting requirements for the PRF, which was authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help protect the safety of frontline doctors and nurses and ensure they have access to quality health care.

“At a time when so many are still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that our nation’s hospitals and providers have the resources and assistance they need in order to keep our communities healthy,” said Rep. Lucas. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our hospitals have relied on distributions from HHS’ Provider Relief Fund to care for thousands of individuals and families and to help them keep their doors open during these challenging times.”

In an Oct. 22 letter Rep. Lucas led with more than 240 other colleagues sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the lawmakers wrote that the HHS changes made on Sept. 19 would represent “an about-face from the stipulations that HHS outlined months ago, which providers based their planning upon during an already tumultuous fiscal environment.”

That letter followed an Oct. 20 letter sent by Rep. Lucas and most of the Oklahoma delegation in Congress saying that the revised HHS requirements would “disproportionately affect rural hospitals that already operate on thin margins.”

The HHS changes to its PRF reporting requirements will provide for full applicability of PRF distributions to lost revenues.