What optometry practice owners need to know about HHS round 4 funding

Optometric practice owners may find themselves being able to benefit from additional funding that has been allocated through the continued Biden-Harris administration COVID-19 relief package. The deadline to apply for additional funding is October 26, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.

From the most recent HHS announcement:

Consistent with the requirements included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing commitment to equity, and to support providers with the most need, PRF Phase 4 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. PRF Phase 4 will also include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients, who tend to be lower income and have greater and more complex medical needs. HRSA will price these bonus payments at the generally higher Medicare rates to ensure equity for those serving low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors.

In addition, Phase 4 included additional funding for those practice owners serving rural areas. To determine if you’re practice meets the definition of rural, visit this link on the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website.

If you qualify for the funding, the entire application process (HHS phase 4 + additional rural funding) will be handled and streamlined through the HHS funding portal, which can be accessed here. Keep in mind that, even if you completed the application process for Rounds 1, 2, and/or 3, you’ll need to complete the application process again. HRSA is requesting the most recent financial information, which will be different than the information used for rounds 1-3.

You’ll need to have your TIN (tax ID number) along with specific revenue and tax information. All of this information will be added via the portal. You’ll complete the process with an attestation once funding is received, which you must complete within 90 days of receiving funds.

An FAQ provided by HRSA is viewable here. Of important note, any revenue or expenses related to the sale of medical supplies, including prescription glasses and contacts, may NOT be included as part of the revenue or expenses from patient care.

It’s also important to note that while the original attestation deadline for the first PRF (provider relief fund) is September 30, 2021, HHS has granted one final 60-day extension.

For detailed questions about the attestation portal or application process, please call the HRSA department at (866) 569-3522. A list of additional resources is available here on the HRSA website.

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