Does the CARES Act help hospitals deal with reduced Medicare payments from the delay in elective procedures and other care related to COVID-19? Section 3719 of the CARES Act enables hospitals to receive accelerated payments from the Medicare program. This provision is intended to give acute-care inpatient hospitals access to reliable and stable cash flow in order to maintain an adequate workforce, buy essential supplies, create additional infrastructure, and keep their doors open to care for patients.

Medicare participating hospitals can work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the appropriate regional Medicare Administrative Contractor to request an advanced lump sum or periodic payment based on up to six months of historical payments, prior-claims data, and other financial information. Most hospital types could elect to receive up to 100 percent of a prior period’s payments, with Critical Access Hospitals able to receive up to 125 percent. A qualifying hospital would not be required to start paying down the advance for four months, and would also have at least 12 months to complete repayment without a requirement to pay interest.

Can Medicare providers other than hospitals receive accelerated payments? CMS is making accelerated payments available to Medicare participating providers and suppliers beyond hospitals. Essentially, all Part A and Part B providers and suppliers — including nursing facilities, ambulatory-surgery centers, physicians, and durable medical-equipment suppliers — in good standing with the Medicare program are eligible. CMS is making this option available by expanding a small-scale accelerated payments program that has been used during natural disasters and other emergency situations. Some of the parameters for this program, for example the number of months for which a provider can request advance payments, differ from the parameters of the CARES Act program for hospitals that are defined in statute.

How long is the CARES Act accelerated payment program for hospitals and the CMS program for other providers available? Hospitals and other providers can receive accelerated payments through these programs during the COVID-19 public-health emergency.

Where can a hospital or other Medicare provider find information on these accelerated payment program options? CMS has made an accelerated payment program fact sheet available that describes these program options, including eligibility requirements, repayment processes, and how providers can apply.

How quickly will Medicare process provider advance payment requests? Medicare Administrative Contractors will immediately review accelerated payment requests, process them, and respond promptly to applicants. CMS anticipates approved payments will be issued to qualifying providers and suppliers within seven days.

Are there other CARES Act Medicare provisions that help hospitals and other providers financially? The Medicare accelerated payment program is just one CARES Act provision to help hospitals and other providers deal with financial strain during the COVID-19 public-health emergency. Other Medicare programs are described in the summary of Finance Committee health provisions. Additional information is provided in a description of how the CARES Act helps providers in rural areas.

*The above information was prepared by Republican Finance Committee staff for informational purposes.

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