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CMS suspends advance payment program to clinicians for COVID-19 relief


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will suspend its Medicare advance payment program for clinicians and is reevaluating how much to pay to hospitals going forward through particular COVID-19 relief initiatives. CMS announced the changes on April 26. Physicians and others who use the accelerated and advance Medicare payments program repay these advances, and they are typically given 1 year or less to repay the funding.

CMS said in a news release it will not accept new applications for the advanced Medicare payment, and it will be reevaluating all pending and new applications “in light of historical direct payments made available through the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Provider Relief Fund.”

The advance Medicare payment program predates COVID-19, although it previously was used on a much smaller scale. In the past 5 years, CMS approved about 100 total requests for advanced Medicare payment, with most being tied to natural disasters such as hurricanes.

CMS said it has approved, since March, more than 21,000 applications for advanced Medicare payment, totaling $59.6 billion, for hospitals and other organizations that bill its Part A program. In addition, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications for its Part B program, advancing $40.4 billion for physicians, other clinicians, and medical equipment suppliers.

CMS noted that Congress also has provided $175 billion in aid for the medical community that clinicians and medical organizations would not need to repay. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted in March included $100 billion, and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, enacted March 24, includes another $75 billion.

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