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Confusion remains in Provider Relief Fund reporting

Written on Oct 14, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

The Provider Relief Fund created by the CARES Act has accountants in healthcare doing their best to ensure they’re protecting not only their clients, but themselves. 

“There's just a lot of confusion regarding all of this funding,” said Barbara Notardonato-Cole, CPA, principal at HW&Co. “There were many different rounds that were issued. The reporting requirements are somewhat confusing. The terms and conditions have continued to evolve and change.” 

The Department of Health and Human Services allocated $178 billion in relief funds to healthcare providers dealing with the pandemic, supporting healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. Reporting on the first set of funding that was received in April 2020 is due this November. 

Notardonato-Cole, along with Rachel Smathers, CPA, principal at HW&Co., will discuss this topic at OSCPA’s Oct. 20 Health Care Virtual Conference. 

Their goal is to provide clarity on Provider Relief Funding.  

“The confusion from the accounting and auditing side is there has been a plethora of guidance that has been around for many years,” Smathers said. “Then with this new funding that was put into the economy with the CARES Act, in this case, HHS is able to provide additional guidance of how to report those funds and when to report those funds.” 

The portal the providers have been asked to use has been tricky, they said, leading to frustration among practitioners who are trying to do they best they can to decipher what is sometimes contradictory information. 


“If we do have to make some of these basic assumptions and try to work around these quirks within the portal, then we just want to make sure that what never happens is that expenses are reported twice,” Notardonato-Cole said. “That is the one thing that we do think people would have some exposure, if that did happen.” 

HHS has issued a frequently asked questions page that Notardonato-Cole estimated at more than 70 pages long. She said expecting every provider to go through the page to search out nuanced answers is unrealistic, especially given staffing challenges with COIVD. 

For now, accountants and CPAs in healthcare will continue to search for better clarification and rely on the FAQs. 

“We expect more guidance,” said Smathers. “It's definitely a continuing process as we get into the reporting. There are always more questions that come up and more clarification that's needed.”