Last week the Trump administration signed into law the CARES Act to help providers through the COVID-19 pandemic. From assistance with additional supplies, grants and loans, this act has a lot of moving pieces providers should be aware of.
The CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program
The key takeaway about this program is it IS a loan that will need to be paid back. However, the usual four-to-six week timeframe from application to approval has been streamlined to between four to six days. CMS has already received over 25,000 requests from providers and suppliers in a week, and over 17,000 have already been approved.
This will work by granting an “advance” on Medicare payments that will later be offset through recoupments 120 days after distribution.
This is an option for providers in a cash crunch now due to expenditures on COVID-19 test kits, additional orders for PPE, or even reduced volume from patient visits.
The Provider Relief Fund Payment
An additional program put forth by the CARES Act is a cash infusion to providers nationwide to help offset expenses and losses during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is being disbursed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Many have seen this payment hit your bank through direct deposit over the last few days. The biggest takeaway from this program is that it is a payment to healthcare providers, not a loan, and will not need to be re-paid.
- That received Medicare Fee-for-Service reimbursements in 2019 will receive immediate distribution.
- Payments are made based on the organizations Tax ID Number (TIN).
- Must agree not to seek collection of out-of-pocket payments from a COVID-19 patient that are greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been provided by an in-network provider.
Things you need to know:
- Within 30 days of receiving the payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions of payment. The portal for signing the attestation will be open the week of April 13, 2020.
- The funds are conditioned on the provider’s acceptance of the Terms and Conditions.
What are those Terms and Conditions?
The link to the full PDF document is here, however crucial information to be aware of includes:
- The Recipient certifies that it billed Medicare in 2019; currently provides diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19
- The Recipient certifies that the Payment will only be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to corona virus, and shall reimburse the Recipient only for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to corona virus.
- The Recipient certifies that it will not use the Payment to reimburse expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources or that other sources are obligated to reimburse.
- In the future, there will be reports that will need to be made to the Secretary of HHS to ensure compliance with these conditions.
We recommend reviewing the Terms and Conditions in full, so your practice is fully aware of the steps that will need to be taken with this money.
Our biggest recommendation is to read everything regarding both programs. If you do look into the Advance Payment Loan, make sure that it is right for your practice and that your practice will be able to handle to offsets in 3-4 months.