Senator Collins introduces bill to ease PRF requirements facing overwhelmed providers

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation that builds on their bipartisan work to bolster the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), which has served as a lifeline to frontline health care providers who've experienced revenue losses and increased demand for their services during the pandemic. Their new bill, the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act, strengthens support for overwhelmed providers by delaying complex PRF reporting requirements until after the end of the public health emergency and extending the use of PRF dollars to enhance workplace safety.
“Over the course of the pandemic, the Provider Relief Fund has been a lifeline to hundreds of Maine hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and physician practices—particularly in rural areas—that have been on the verge of closing their doors permanently. As health care providers continue to struggle with staffing shortages, financial difficulties, and other challenges, the last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden by imposing onerous paperwork requirements,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased to once again partner with Senator Shaheen to strengthen the Provider Relief Fund so that medical professionals have the resources they need to focus on delivering quality care to their patients.”
Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living providers, clinics, and other health care providers have relied on the Provider Relief Fund to help weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic. In rural areas in particular, the PRF has prevented facilities that struggled before and during the pandemic from falling into bankruptcy or closing entirely.
Specifically, the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act helps health care providers by:
  • Extending current reporting and use-of-funds deadlines to the end of the pandemic;
  • Ensuring that workplace safety improvements – such as security personnel, risk assessments and physical improvements, including panic buttons and security cameras – are an allowable use of PRF dollars;
  • Directing HRSA to distribute any funds remaining in the PRF by either the end public health emergency or by March 31, 2022, and;
  • Creating an application process for certain providers to receive funds returned in compliance with previous deadlines.
To date, the PRF has allocated more than $178 billion in payments to over 410,000 providers across the country. Maine has received nearly $700 million for more than 2,000 providers.

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