The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been working tirelessly throughout this declared state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 to protect beneficiaries from this highly contagious disease. In that vein, CMS has been instrumental in opening up other avenues of care such as telehealth and telemedicine to ensure beneficiaries continue to have access to quality care as determined by their physicians and other qualified healthcare professionals.
CMS also expanded an already established relief loan program, known as the Accelerated and Advance Payments (AAP) Program on March 28, 2020 to offset financial losses due to COVID-19. Since its expansion, CMS has already delivered an estimated $100 billion dollars in COVID-19 relief to both Medicare Parts A and B facilities and providers via the AAP program.
However, on April 26, 2020 CMS abruptly announced:
- It will no longer be taking new applications for the Accelerated and Advance Payments Program
- It has suspended the Advanced Payment Program to Medicare Part B providers, as well as durable medical equipment suppliers
- It is re-evaluating the amounts that will be paid out under its Accelerated Payment Program to hospitals
It is critical to note that these accelerated and advanced payments are loans that should be repaid. The AAP program is not a grant, and providers and suppliers are typically required to pay back the funding within one year, or less, depending on provider or supplier type.
There is considerable, additional funding available to hospitals and qualified healthcare providers through other programs that do not need to be repaid. Included amongst the nation’s major relief packages are the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as the Health Care Enhancement Act. Combined, these relief funds will approach $175 billion dollars and are being distributed by Health and Human Services (HHS) via the Provider Relief Fund.
The healthcare industry has experienced vast and rapidly changing news releases due to this national pandemic.