Covid-19 relief loans for the healthcare industry provide much-needed alleviation.
On the evening of March 25, the Senate voted to approve a COVID-19 Relief package in the amount of $2 trillion to assist millions of struggling Americans and businesses greatly impacted by the disruption of the pandemic.
This relief package is known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) and is to provide assistance for people, businesses, as well as the healthcare industry.
The provisions for the healthcare industry include a relief of $100 billion for hospitals at the forefront of battling the pandemic. These funds will reimburse “eligible healthcare providers” for expenses incurred for health care and any loss of revenue attributed to COVID-19.
The healthcare providers that are eligible include, “public entities, Medicare and Medicaid suppliers and providers including hospitals, and other nonprofit and for-profit entities as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
Congress Expands Medicare Hospital Accelerated Payment Program
On a temporary basis, Congress has allowed hospitals to receive “accelerated payments” within the Medicare program that falls under Social Security Act Section 1815(e). With this provision, hospitals can be provided “periodic interim payments (PIPs)” if they are suffering from substantial cash flow difficulties as a result of its operations.
The CARES Act also extends accelerated payments to other types of hospitals such as cancer, children’s and critical care hospitals.
When an administrator receives the request for this funding from the hospital, the following may take place:
- Accelerated payments may come as a lump sum or issued periodically
- Period can be extended to up to 6 months
When the initial request is made from the hospital, the administrator will do the following:
- “provide up to 120 days before claims are offset to recoup the accelerated payment”
- Outstanding balance is to be paid in full 12 months from the date of the first accelerated payment is made.
How can these funds be accessed?
Providers and hospitals should get in contact with their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). If an online application is preferred, a specified payment amount needs to be requested.
A majority of providers are able to request up to 100% of the accelerated Medicare Payment amounts for a period of three months. For inpatient hospitals, they can request payments for up to six months.
Upon receiving the application, payment will be issued within seven days.
Applications for these payments can be found on the Medicare Administrative Contractor’s (MAC) website. Each MAC has its very own application. This program does have a recoupment process. At the conclusion of the period of eligibility, “every claim submitted by the hospital, provider or supplier will be offset from new claims to repay the accelerated or advanced payment.”
More Funding For Healthcare Providers
For healthcare providers, the CARES Act has the following provisions:
- $27 billion has been allotted for the research and development of vaccines, as well as for treatments and the diagnosis of the coronavirus
- There is $16 billion to create personal protection equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies to aid state and federal “response efforts”.
- $11 billion for therapeutics, diagnostics, vaccines, and other medical preparations
- $1.3 billion allocated for health care centers for the use of the prevention, the diagnosis, and ultimately, the treatment of COVID-19
- $250 million set aside for grants via the Hospital Preparedness Fund to respond to any “medical events”.
- $185 million to assist critical access hospitals in rural areas, rural tribal health programs, and poison control centers.
It is clear that our healthcare providers are bearing the brunt in the fight against Covid-19. As manpower and resources continue to be taxed and depleted, it is a welcomed relief to have the funds available to replenish and strengthen those healthcare providers that need it most.