Senior living providers have a little more time to spend down federal Provider Relief Funds, along with eased reporting requirements, thanks to an extension from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But industry experts still are calling for additional relief for the hard-hit sector.

The Health Resources and Services Administration released revised reporting requirements Friday for recipients of Provider Relief Fund payments. The announcement included an extension for filing reports and spending down payments, and it also reduced burdens on smaller providers. The revised requirements apply to recipients who received payments of more than $10,000 after June 30, 2020.

“These updated requirements reflect our focus on giving providers equitable amounts of time for use of these funds, maintaining effective safeguards for taxpayer dollars and incorporating feedback from providers requesting more flexibility and clarity about PRF reporting,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a statement.

‘Welcome news’

Senior living industry experts called the update “welcome news.”

“We greatly appreciate the administration recognizing that our battle with COVID-19 is not over yet and that our ongoing efforts require ongoing resources,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the National Center for Assisted Living, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We now strongly encourage the agency to distribute the remaining funds and to dedicate a significant portion to long-term care, which has been the epicenter of the pandemic and now face imminent closures without additional aid.”

American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless said the revision will give senior living providers more time to fulfill their reporting requirements related to distributions covered during the first two quarters of 2020. But he echoed Parkinson’s call for additional relief.

“While this is a positive development, we continue our ongoing outreach to members of Congress and to HHS to announce a new Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund allocation to cover COVID-related expenses and losses over the second half of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021,” Schless told McKnight’s Senior Living.

ASHA and Argentum have met with HRSA representatives to review outstanding Provider Relief Fund payments and advocate for future disbursements.

Argentum President and CEO James Balda told McKnight’s Senior Living that the association continues to work with the agency and administration “to ensure senior living providers receive equitable relief to support the adversities they’ve endured.”

“Senior living providers have shouldered tremendous financial strain and operational challenges due to COVID-19, and these revised reporting requirements and extended deadlines will offer more flexibility as they continue to keep their communities safe and healthy,” Balda said.

Argentum said that national pandemic losses for senior living providers could grow to $29.8 billion through the first half of the year, with the 15 states with the largest number of senior living providers collectively incurring more than $18.8 billion in uncompensated pandemic losses.

The industry anticipates that a fourth round of funding is imminent and could offer additional funding to cover COVID-19 expenses incurred during the second half of 2020.

Key updates

Among the key updates announced Friday is that the availability period for funds now is based on the date payment is received. Previously, all payments were required to be used by June 30. 

Recipients of funds now will be required to report for each payment received period in which one or more payments exceeded $10,000, rather than $10,000 cumulatively across all distributions. Also, the reporting period has been extended from 30 to 90 days.

The PRF reporting portal will open for providers to begin submitting information on July 1. By registering through the portal, providers will receive updates closer to the official opening of the portal for their reporting submissions.

Assisted living first was recognized during Phase 2 Provider Relief Fund distributions, with Phase 3 distributions covering pandemic expenses from the first half of 2020.