Medicare-enrolled health care providers have started to receive payments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) from the Public Health and Emergency Fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). The distributions will amount to a total of $30 billion out of a total of $100 billion comprising the entire Emergency Fund. Providers who find unexpected deposits in their bank accounts should note that the deposits have been labeled “stimulus,” “stimulus payment,” or “HHS payment.” Providers who typically receive Medicare reimbursement via paper check should expect a check in the mail over the next few weeks. The distribution amounts will be based on fee-for-service payments made in 2019 to practice tax-ID numbers. The distributed funds need not be paid back by the providers receiving the funds. For details on how to calculate your anticipated Medicare relief, HHS has provided a formula for approximate payment.
As a separate program, health care providers may also apply for accelerated or advance reimbursement from Medicare. Under this program, the time frame for Medicare payment to health care providers has reportedly been reduced from four to six weeks to only four to six days. Since the beginning of April, more than 17,000 health care provider requests have been approved. The payments are available to Part-A providers (including hospitals) and Part-B suppliers (including physicians, non-physician health care practitioners, and DME suppliers). Unlike the direct relief discussed above, the advance or accelerated payments are loans from Medicare that providers must pay back. It is anticipated that 120 days after disbursement of advance or accelerated payments, CMS will begin to apply prior claims against the pre-payment.
Over the next few weeks, HHS, CMS, and other Federal agencies will be examining how to target distributions of remaining stimulus relief funds. Federal priorities will include providers hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, rural providers, as well as Medicaid providers and providers with relatively low shares of Medicare reimbursement.
If you have any questions about how Federal stimulus funds might provide relief to your practice, please contact Heather Skelton, Ethan Dunn, or another member of Gardner Skelton’s health care and business teams.