The nation’s healthcare providers are beginning to see promised funding from the federal government, according to various sources. A total of $64 billion has either been delivered or is on the way.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this week that it has delivered nearly $34 billion in advance Medicare payments to qualified healthcare providers “on the frontlines battling the 2019 Novel Coronavirus….” The money comes from the expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to ensure providers and suppliers have the resources needed to combat the pandemic.
Another $30 billion will be distributed to hospitals this week from the coronavirus response law enacted in late March.
“Healthcare providers are making massive financial sacrifices to care for the influx of coronavirus patients,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a press release. “Many are rightly complying with federal recommendations to delay non-essential elective surgeries to preserve capacity and personal protective equipment. They shouldn’t be penalized for doing the right thing. Amid a public health storm of unprecedented fury, these payments are helping providers and suppliers – so critical to defeating this terrible virus – stay afloat.”
Advanced Medicare payments have been used by CMS in the past to help providers with funding during emergencies, usually in the aftermath of natural disasters. For COVID-19, CMS implemented a streamlined process that Verma says has reduced processing times to between four to six days, as compared to three or four weeks in the past.
The payments are available to Part A providers, including hospitals, and Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers. Funding is typically equal to three months of the provider’s past Medicare reimbursements, but certain providers can receive up to six months’ worth. (See the CMS Fact Sheet for information on making a request.)
The advanced payments are in addition to the $100 billion appropriated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for healthcare providers, $30 billion of which will be distributed this week.
According to an article by HealthcareDive.com, the government will directly deposit the money into some hospitals’ banks accounts if possible, but other providers may have to register to receive their share.
As Dive writer Rebecca Pifer reported, the money is needed to help hospitals meet an increasing demand for treatment as the virus has infected almost 400,000 people nationwide.