Provider Relief Fund payments can be used to pay for eligible coronavirus-related expenses that date back to Jan. 1, 2020, even if an operator received the money after the expenses incurred, according to federal health officials.  

The clarification was detailed by LeadingAge on Wednesday in a new analysis on how long-term care providers can use the PRF funding and the reporting process. The group’s report comes after the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, last week updated reporting requirements for payment recipients.

LeadingAge explained that the flexibility means that a provider that received a PRF payment on, for example, April 10, can submit uncompensated expenses for personal protective equipment incurred on Feb. 24, 2020, if it was used to prevent, prepare for or respond to COVID-19. 

“In addition, any uncompensated coronavirus expenses and lost revenues from one period can be covered by funds in a future reporting period. Due to this flexibility, there will be overlapping periods of time for reporting,” wrote Nicole Fallon, LeadingAge’s vice president of health policy and integrated services.

The organization also noted that the agency still is recognizing hazard pay as an approved expense for the remainder of 2021, even though the public health crisis is improving. 

“However, HRSA said providers should have policies or procedures in place defining hazard pay eligibility, and providers should be able to demonstrate that the policies are being consistently applied,” Fallon explained. 

She also noted that providers who have unspent PRF at the end of a reporting period will be required to return the unspent amount through the reporting portal. LeadingAge is still awaiting details on that specific process.