Date: September 15, 2020
To: All Medical Assistance Program Providers
Re: First Round Distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Funds Appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly
This provider notice includes information about the application for and distribution of CARES Act funds (CARES payments) as appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly on July 1, 2020.
The Illinois General Assembly has appropriated federal CARES Act funding to HFS for State Fiscal Year 2021. These CARES payments are intended to provide support to Medicaid providers as the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency continues to unfold. They may be used to offset COVID-19 related costs from March 1 through December 30, 2020, such as hazard pay for direct care workers, personal protective equipment purchases, and other previously unbudgeted expenditures. These appropriations from the General Assembly come in addition to federal CARES Act funding that the Illinois Department of Human Services has already distributed directly to many Illinois Medicaid provider partners and what some partners have received directly from federal sources.
To aid providers in receiving their CARES payments, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) together with its contractor Ernst & Young (EY) established automatic funding methodologies and application procedures for the first round of CARES payments.
New Application Portal and Automatic Funding
A streamlined portal will be launched through which recipient entities may apply for CARES payments. Many provider types, such as safety net hospitals, long-term care facilities and Federally Qualified Health Centers, will receive first-round CARES payments automatically through a newly developed funding methodology specific to respective appropriations. Other provider types will be required to use the portal to complete an advance online application for the first round of CARES payments. Details regarding specific calculation methodologies and awards by provider will be posted on the Department’s website when available.
Use of the portal will be required for all provider types during the second and any potential subsequent rounds of funding. Providers receiving CARES payments will also be required to submit reports through the portal. This portal will mitigate risk and provide accountability for entities receiving CARES payments and the State of Illinois by ensuring compliance with federal mandates and requirements. Additional information about accessing the portal when it is launched will be posted at https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/Pages/coronavirus.aspx.
For questions about portal access or CARES payments, please contact the HFS Bureau of Fiscal Operations via e-mail at HFS.CARES@illinois.gov
To meet federal requirements, all CARES payment recipients will be required to complete subaward agreements, which they will receive from the Department either upon submission of their application or upon automatic receipt of first-round CARES payments per the newly developed funding methodology, depending on provider type.
Completed grant agreements must be executed in order to utilize all CARES payments. The agreement details the CARES payment program, permissible uses of the dollars, reporting requirements, and requirements for compliance. These agreements will help ensure fund recipients and HFS are accountable in reporting the usage of all funds. If for any reason an organization cannot or will not execute the agreement, the CARES payment must be returned immediately to HFS.
CARES Payments Timeline
For these unprecedented appropriations, HFS plans to stand up its CARES payment system and initiate the first round of funding in mid- September. With the establishment of these new funding methodologies and the creation of the new subaward agreements, this first round of CARES payments is on track to meet that projection.
The second and any potential subsequent rounds of CARES payments will come later in the fall. While we will continue to share information through traditional notices, we will also be posting updates at:
Process, Methodology, and Accountability
Since the Illinois General Assembly appropriations became effective on July 1, 2020, HFS immediately began preparing for the unprecedented distribution of CARES payments as fairly and efficiently as possible, taking care to develop appropriate funding methodologies for different provider types in full compliance with federal regulations governing the use of CARES payments.
HFS procured a contract with Ernst & Young (EY) to aid in this effort and followed best practices to develop a methodology for distributing CARES payments based on targeted needs and as appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.
EY will help HFS gather provider data, documentation, and affirm eligibility; assist with funding recommendations; assist with compliance and documentation on provider’s use of CARES payments; and assist with final reports and wrap-up at the conclusion of the funding period. EY will also help HFS with compliance with federal requirements on behalf of the state and track the distribution of funds.
HFS will make final funding and policy decisions based on federal and state laws, regulations, and guidance. Providers will be funded through a methodology developed by the Department to ensure fair, efficient, and accountable use of appropriated CARES payments for each provider type. HFS will consider the amount of COVID-related funding providers receive directly from the federal government. Amounts received in the first round of funding may not equal the amount received in second and any potential subsequent rounds of funding.