HHS seems poised to let hospice suppliers use federal aid grants to offset fundraising and thrift retailer income they misplaced because of COVID-19, though the company’s communication leaves room for interpretation.
HHS’ Well being Assets and Companies Administration chief wrote in a Dec. 2 letter to a hospice commerce group that misplaced fundraising and thrift retailer income “could qualify as reimbursable misplaced income” underneath the Supplier Aid Fund grant program.
HRSA Administrator Thomas Engels’ letter to the Nationwide Hospice and Palliative Care Group was in response to its Nov. 17 request for clarification on whether or not suppliers may use their grant cash to make up for that misplaced income. However his response nonetheless leaves a query mark for the commerce group, which represents greater than four,000 hospice places and 48 state hospice and palliative care organizations.
“We see the ‘could’ as properly,” mentioned Judi Lund Individual, NHPCO’s vp for regulatory and compliance.
The “$64,000 query” is whether or not the open-ended letter is sufficient foundation for hospice and palliative care suppliers to go forward and use the grant cash to switch misplaced fundraising and thrift retailer income, Lund Individual mentioned. Most chief monetary officers she’s spoken with have mentioned they are going to accomplish that till they hear in any other case.
“We’d not want extra steering,” she mentioned.
HHS has gone backwards and forwards with respect to its directions to suppliers for recognizing their Supplier Aid Fund grants as income. Most lately, the company in October mentioned suppliers can hold the cash as much as the quantity of their year-over-year income distinction from 2019 to 2020. However NHPCO CEO Edo Banach identified in his letter that the October steering didn’t deal with misplaced fundraising and thrift retailer income particularly.
HHS didn’t return a request for additional clarification.
Engels’ letter directs suppliers to calculate misplaced income attributable to the pandemic by reporting income obtained from Medicare, Medicaid, business insurance coverage and different sources for affected person care providers.
“Suppliers ought to report fundraising and thrift retailer income in 2019 and 2020 as a income supply if it was raised to fund affected person care providers,” the letter continued.
The stipulation appears to be that hospice and palliative care suppliers can solely use the grant cash to offset misplaced fundraising and thrift retailer income if that income goes towards affected person care, Lund Individual mentioned. The overwhelming majority is already used that method, she mentioned. The cash usually funds bereavement packages, take care of uninsured sufferers and room and board for individuals who cannot pay.
That is the case at East Finish Hospice on Lengthy Island, New York. Its thrift retailer, which was closed for nearly three months on the peak of the pandemic, usually funds about 70% of its price range for bereavement providers, CEO Mary Crosby mentioned. And fundraising usually covers 20% of its working price range.
East Finish Hospice’s bereavement providers are freed from cost for each members of the family of its hospice shoppers and neighborhood members who should not shoppers. Companies embrace equine remedy, music and artwork remedy and a summer time camp for youths. The demand for these providers is far greater currently due to COVID’s toll, at the same time as thrift retailer income has shrunk.
On the similar time, East Finish Hospice was pressured to cancel all 4 of its summer time fundraisers, together with giant annual gala that usually hosts 600 folks.
Utilizing the grant cash to offset these losses is “important,” Crosby mentioned.
“It is essential to us and I believe that call was essential when it comes to the place we land on the finish of this fiscal 12 months,” she mentioned. “We completely will declare these losses and use that cash as a result of it actually has impacted our backside line.”
Hospice Austin, a not-for-profit hospice supplier serving Central Texas, mentioned it was pressured to cancel this 12 months’s brunch fundraiser that usually brings in $500,000. On the similar time, the variety of days of care supplied to sufferers with no insurance coverage or different funding as grown by greater than 50% from year-over-year, spokeswoman Melinda Marble wrote in an e mail.
“We’re positively feeling the results of the pandemic,” she mentioned.
About 70% of the nation’s hospice suppliers are for-profit, in contrast with about 27% not-for-profit and four% authorities owned, based on NHPCO knowledge. For-profit suppliers increase cash via foundations, with the proceeds going towards particular packages and room and board for uninsured sufferers, Lund Individual mentioned.