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HHS answers popular Provider Relief Fund questions

ADA sends email clarifying surprise billing, other concerns from member dentists

July 23, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The American Dental Association emailed members July 23 to help clear up confusion for dentists applying to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal.

The deadline to apply for funding is Aug. 3, but some dentists have expressed concerns about the application’s reference to surprise billing — also known as balance billing — and reporting requirements.

In an Issues Alert email, ADA President Chad P. Gehani said the Association “worked with HHS to set the record straight” and the department has clarified that dental providers not caring for patients with “presumptive or actual cases of COVID-19” are not subject to balance billing prohibitions.

HHS told the ADA that presumptive is “defined as a case where a patient's medical record documentation supports a diagnosis of COVID-19.”

“HHS thinks few, if any, dentists are performing dental work on active COVID patients. So, there should be very few dental patients covered by this bar,” wrote Dr. Gehani.

In regards to concerns about reporting requirements, Dr. Gehani noted that HHS released a notice stating that detailed instructions regarding future reports will be released by Aug. 17 and will apply to payments exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate from the Provider Relief Fund.

HHS also told the ADA:
• The reporting system will become available to recipients for reporting on Oct. 1. The reports will allow providers to demonstrate compliance with the terms and conditions, including use of funds for allowable purposes.
• Recipients of payments from the Provider Relief Fund will not need to submit a separate quarterly report to HHS or the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

Both the ADA and HHS are hosting free webinars next week to help dentists apply to the Provider Relief Fund:

• The HHS webinar will take place July 27 at 3 p.m. ET. Register here.
• The ADA webinar is July 28 at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to covering the HHS Provider Relief Fund, the webinar will address other COVID-19 issues, including Small Business Administration loans and updates on Congressional activity. Register here.

For step-by-step guidance on the HHS application, the department has an instruction form available on its website.

For personal assistance with the application process, HHS has also set up a Provider Support Line at 1-866-569-3522.

“The ADA is proud to support dentists as they return to serving their communities. Together, we are driving dentistry forward on its path to recovery,” the alert concluded.

For more information about the ADA's advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.