Healthcare News & Insights

Coronavirus: Additional federal funds to support hospitals announced

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has upped the amount of accelerated Medicare payments the agency wants to get to healthcare providers to help them weather the coronavirus crisis from $34 billion to more than $51 billion. 

According to a healthcaredive.com report, these funds will be in the form of loans.

Speaking at a White House coronavirus task force briefing, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said approval has been granted for about 21,000 of the 32,000 requests CMS has received for expedited payments. The last time the agency activated its Accelerated and Advance Payment Program was during hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017.

These payments are separate from the emergency money earmarked for hospitals as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Stimulus status

Verma also said a $30 billion CARES Act installment of $100 billion started rolling out last week. This first wave of financial relief will be apportioned in grants to hospitals based off their Medicare fee-for-service revenue.

“They will get the dollars. Even if it takes a few days, there shouldn’t be any panic in the system,” Verma said.

If possible, the money will be direct deposited into hospital bank accounts. However, some providers may have to register to get their share.

Between the CARES Act funds and expedited Medicare payments, a reported $64 billion so far is flowing into an American health system dealing with financial challenges brought on by shortages of personal protective equipment, ventilators and respirators, and halted elective procedures.

Verma added that a second phase of CARES fund distribution will address providers, including children’s hospitals and OB-GYN facilities, that get most of their revenue from non-Medicare sources. A subsequent funding release will focus on Medicaid-dependent providers.

The CARES Act also calls for a 20% increase in Medicare reimbursement rates for common treatments of COVID-19.

Other sources for aid

The American Hospital Association posted a chart with details about requirements for additional sources for federal funds that are available for hospitals during the COVID-19 emergency.

These sources include:

  • FEMA Public Assistance
  • Paycheck Protection Program
  • Main Street New Loans, and
  • Main Street Expanded Loans

Tracking coronavirus

Apple and Google are working on a COVID-19 contact tracing app that would notify people by their smartphone if they’ve been near someone with the coronavirus. The technology is supposed to work on an opt-in basis without compromising user privacy.

The first step – application programming interfaces – is expected to be introduced in May. It could be a big help in slowing the spread of the virus, and hospitals may be able to take advantage of the technology, too. We’ll keep you posted.

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