Healthcare News & Insights

Coronavirus: What the $2 trillion stimulus could mean for your hospital

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes provisions to help hospitals dealing with unprecedented demand due to the still-developing COVID-19 national public health emergency. 

Here are some parts of the legislation you might not have heard about:

  • It covers treatment of uninsured patients for COVID-19. Relaxed Medicare guidelines mean hospitals will be reimbursed at Medicare rates for treating uninsured patients for the virus (e.g., those that have lost their employer-sponsored insurance coverage from being laid off). A condition of receiving the funds is providers must not bill the patients or issue unexpected charges.
  • Funds are available for improving telehealth services. To limit exposure while providing care to patients with the virus, the use of telehealth services has become a standard form of care. The Federal Communications Commission could be sending around $200 million to virtual care providers – including federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics – to buy “telecommunications services, information services and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during this emergency period.”
  • Payors are required to cover in-house COVID-19 testing. To get test results faster, major hospital groups and academic medical centers have been working on developing their own COVID-19 tests. Major insurers are required by the law to also cover tests developed by hospitals.
  • Providers must publish the price for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. During the emergency, each provider of a diagnostic test must put the cash price for a COVID-19 diagnostic test online. The Department of Health and Human Services could fine non-compliant diagnostic test providers as much as $300 per day.
  • The 50% rule for long-term care hospitals is waived. The CARES Act waives the rule that cuts Medicare payments for long-term care hospitals in certain cases.
  • Some healthcare programs are being extended. The law includes extensions for programs that were expected to run out of money May 23. For instance, the CARES Act would extend a delay of reductions in payments to disproportionate share hospitals until Dec. 1. The legislation also extends funding to community health centers through Nov. 30.

Additional relief for front-line staff

Other forms of relief for healthcare workers are coming from sources besides the CARES Act. Some industries are stepping up to help clinical staff and medical professionals who are caring for patients with the coronavirus in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Example: Starting the week of April 13, Hilton, Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton and other hotels are donating up to 1 million hotel room nights for free to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other front-line medical staff who need a place to sleep, recharge or isolate from their families through the end of May.

The donated rooms will keep these individuals from spending their own money on these accommodations.

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