CMS halts advance payment program for COVID-19 providers

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has suspended its Advance Payment Program and is reevaluating its Accelerated Payment Program, according to an announcement made Sunday.

The agency made the announcement “following the successful payment of over $100 billion to healthcare providers and suppliers through these programs and in light of the $175 billion recently appropriated for healthcare provider relief payments.”

The programs were designed to give providers advanced Medicare payments to help keep healthcare practices open amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since starting the program, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. The advanced payments are not a grant, and providers are typically required to pay back the funds with interest within one year or less.

In a fact sheet accompanying the announcement, CMS said it would not accept new applications for its Advanced Payment Program. The agency has implied the assistance is no longer needed due to other sources of provider funding, including through the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, though many physicians disagree.

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