Additional Federal Financial Relief
April 13, 2020
On Friday the federal government announced release of additional funding to provide financial relief to physicians, PAs and hospitals as the health care system responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the initial delivery of $30 billion in provider funding as part of the $100 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Immediate relief funds began being delivered on Friday April 10 to Medicare enrolled hospitals, physicians and PAs based on their share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement. The funds do not need to be paid back.
HHS indicates that “providers will be distributed a portion of the initial $30 billion based on their share of total Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. Total FFS payments were approximately $484 billion in 2019.” HHS adds that providers “can estimate their payment by dividing their 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by $484,000,000,000, and multiply that ratio by $30,000,000,000.”
Additional Disbursements – HHS indicates it is working rapidly on additional targeted distributions, focusing on practices in areas impacted by COVID-19, practices with lower shares of Medicare FFS reimbursement or who predominantly serve Medicaid, and for COVID-19 care for the uninsured.
More information, including the process HHS will use to deliver the funds, can be found in this HHS press release and fact sheet. The HHS website also has information on the Provider Relief Fund.
Accelerated and Advance Payments
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released another $10 billion in Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments to physicians, bringing the week’s total to over $40 billion. These funds are intended to help keep physicians afloat during the disruption in medical services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds, authorized in Phase 3 of the COVID-19 response (i.e., the CARES Act), will be repaid through offsetting future Medicare claims. The offsets begin 120 days after disbursement of the funds.
The NCMS is working with the AMA and others to reduce the offset percentage, allowing doctors to keep more of their current Medicare billings and use those funds to recover from the disruption. In addition, the NCMS is supporting elimination of the interest charges on funds retained after the initial advance period.
Learn more here.