Trump signs government short-term funding bill that changes Medicare loan repayment terms

President Trump enacted a short-term government funding bill Wednesday evening that includes changes to the repayment terms of some COVID-19 loan providers.

The continuing resolution, which funds the government until December 11, includes new deadlines for participants to repay Medicare Advance and Accelerated Payments program loans. The program has enabled hospitals and some Part A vendors and Part B vendors to obtain advance loans to cover key financial problems caused by the pandemic.

“Medicare Expedited and Advanced Payments have been a lifeline for many hospitals and healthcare systems in the fight against this historic pandemic, allowing them to continue to provide the care that their patients and communities depend on,” said Rick. Pollack, President and CEO of the American Hospital Association. in a statement after Congress passed the bill on Wednesday.

CMS had granted more than $ 100 billion in advance loans to suppliers at the start of the pandemic. The agency suspended the program in April.

But the loans started to fall due on August 1. CMS could seize Medicare payments to these providers to repay the loans.

The urgent deadline alarmed supplier groups who say their members are still suffering from the financial crisis caused by COVID-19.

Hospital volumes fell in March and April, as states demanded that facilities reverse elective procedures to preserve the ability to fight COVID-19. Patients were also very reluctant to come to the hospital.

While patient volumes rebounded in the months that followed, the numbers are still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The bill would give hospitals a year before Medicare can claim their payments to repay the loans. Other Part A Suppliers and Part B Suppliers will have up to 210 days.

Providers will also have 29 months from their first payment to fully repay the loan, against an earlier delay of one year.

The bill also lowers the interest rate for these payments to 4%.

The fundraising bill also delays a cut in payments of $ 4 billion to hospitals that provide a large amount of charitable care. The disproportionately apart cuts to hospitals were imposed by the Affordable Care Act, but were delayed by Congress.

The payments will now go into effect on December 11 after the fundraising bill expires, and the AHA is lobbying Congress to postpone the cuts for the full 2021 federal fiscal year, which begins Thursday.

Elizabeth J. Harris