Provider Relief Fund recipient reporting obligations and government enforcement actions

With the impending reporting period upon providers, this article highlights the current status of Reporting Period 1 and relays some recent enforcement actions.

It is no secret that fraud associated with the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a priority for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). With the impending reporting period upon providers, this article highlights the current status of Reporting Period 1 and relays some recent enforcement actions.

First, providers who received PRF monies are required to complete and submit reports. Although the September 30, 2021 Reporting Period 1 deadline remains unchanged, a 60-day Grace Period is in place. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website, here are the latest items that providers for which providers need to be aware:

  • While you will be out of compliance if you do not submit your report by September 30, 2021, recoupment or other enforcement actions will not be initiated during the 60-day grace period (October 1 – November 30, 2021).
  • The grace period begins on October 1, 2021 and will end on November 30, 2021.
  • Providers who are able are strongly encouraged to complete their report in the PRF Reporting Portal by September 30, 2021.
  • Providers should return unused funds as soon as possible after submitting their report. All unused funds must be returned no later than 30 days after the end of the grace period (December 30, 2021).

Importantly, this Grace Period has no impact on the Period of Availability to use the PRF payments. Recipients are mandated to comply with the Terms and Conditions associated with accepting the money.

A recent example of a government enforcement action related to misappropriating funds from the PRF occurred in the Central District of California. Here, an individual was “charged with the theft of government property and wire fraud in connection with $229,454 that he obtained from COVID-19 relief programs”, including the PRF. The case is set for trial and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alexis Gregorian of the Los Angeles Strike Force.

In sum, this should serve as a reminder to providers regarding compliance with reporting obligations and appropriate use of the funds.

About the Author
Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA, advises clients on compliance and transactions in healthcare, cybersecurity, corporate and securities law, while representing plaintiffs in False Claims Act and Dodd-Frank whistleblower cases. She also teaches bioethics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Rachel can be reached through her website, www.rvrose.com.