October 13, 2022

Assisted living deserves more after ‘hundreds of millions’ in COVID-19 relief funds mismanaged by feds, provider group says

“Hundreds of millions” of mismanaged federal Provider Relief Fund dollars should be recouped and distributed to assisted living providers, Argentum said Wednesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not “establish procedures to verify reported losses,” potentially leading to fraudulent payments to other providers, Argentum said, pointing to the results of a congressionally mandated audit of the PRF by HHS Office of the Inspector General.

For Phase 1 payments, for which assisted living providers were not eligible, HHS did not require supporting documentation to verify financial losses when applying for relief, Argentum Vice President of Government Relations Paul Williams said.

“This opened the door to fraud and overpayments,” he told McKnight’s Senior Living.

The OIG also found that HHS did not subtract automatic payments made to multiple providers’ subsidiaries from provider calculations, resulting in $46.5 million in overpayments. And another $50 million has not been repaid by 118 providers who rejected their relief payments because HHS did not ask for it back, the oversight office said.

“Such lack of accountability and potential for fraud and abuse could have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in inappropriately allocated funds,” Argentum Senior Vice President of Public Policy Maggie Elehwany said in a news release. “To learn this at a time when assisted living frontline caregivers continue to face steep financial struggles because of the inequitable PRF funds received is beyond frustrating.”

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