In passing a bipartisan financing bill last week to avoid a possible government shutdown, the US Senate officially restructured and eased the terms of repayment of Medicare loans made by home healthcare providers in the spring.
President Donald Trump signed a funding bill on Wednesday. This is just two days before being taken to Walter Reed Hospital due to COVID-19 related health concerns.
The ongoing resolution will fund the government until December 11. Due to the Medicare loan, new deadlines will be created for home health care providers, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), etc. to repay prepaid and accelerated payments received in 2020.
Judy Waltz, a Milwaukee partner at Wisconsin-based law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, previously told Home Health Care News:
Prepaid and accelerated payments, supervised by the Medicare & Medicaid Service Center (CMS) in the United States, aim to maintain medical institutions that Medicare reimburses during times of turmoil. Since the start of the COVID-19 emergency, CMS has paid more than $ 100 billion on such loans.
Overall, home healthcare providers received a $ 1.7 billion loan before the CMS suspended its prepaid and accelerated payment programs in late April. Relatively short-term hospitals received over $ 78 billion.
“Medicare’s accelerated and advanced payments have been a lifeline for many hospitals and healthcare systems in the fight against this historic pandemic, allowing patients and communities to continue to provide dependent care.” Said Rick Pollack, Chairman and CEO of the American Hospital Association. In the statement.
Under normal circumstances, the Medicare provider was supposed to start paying off the loan on August 1st, or there is a risk that the CMS will withhold the redemption of unpaid debt. But in August, the CMS went back and forth without paying.
At that time, CMS Seema Verma suggested that authorities expected Congress to address the issue directly.
A recently completed funding bill was given to the hospital a year before Medicare could claim payments to repay the loan. Other Medicare providers can take up to 210 days.
The provider must fully repay the loan within 29 months of the first payment. Previously, it was only one year from the original deadline. In addition, this measure will reduce the unpaid interest rate from 10.25% to 4%.
Waltz said earlier that industry supporters and trade associations tried to allow the acceleration of payments altogether, but that was never really an option.
“Medicare can’t access more money or do anything Congress does to pay federal debt,” she said. “The idea of forgiveness was not realistic because it is so specific to trust funds.”