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CMS to suspend some, reevaluate other, payment programs

Just a few weeks ago, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced it would allow certain health care providers to receive funds to help maintain financial footing during the coronavirus pandemic. To achieve this goal, the agency expanded its Advance and Accelerated Payment Programs. These programs allow emergency funding in the event of a disruption in claims. The agency expanded the programs to help providers receive much needed funding to cover operational costs during the pandemic.

Over 45,000 health care providers applied for assistance and the agency states thus far it has provided over $100 billion in payments.

Now, it appears the agency is stepping back on its offerings.

What did the CMS do?

The agency stated it would suspend the Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective April 26, 2020. It is also reevaluating the Accelerated Payment Program. During the announcement, the agency reminded the public the program is intended to provide emergency funding in the short-term.

Is the agency’s move contrary to prior announcements?

Initially, the CMS stated it would provide accelerated and advance payments during the “ongoing coronavirus public health emergency.” However, a health care analyst recently stated the agency may need to reevaluate its strategy. Depending on the funding, the agency may consider the payments an advance and expect repayment. Due to the current reduction of elective procedures and patient concerns, it may be a long time before business goes back to normal and practices can make these repayments.  

Are any funding options still available?

Health care providers who are on the front lines of the coronavirus response can continue to request funding through the Provider Relief Fund. Other options can include funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Care Enhancement Act.

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