CMS sends $51B in advance payments to hospitals

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CMS announced April 9 that it has delivered more than $51 billion in payments to hospitals and other healthcare providers in the past week through the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.

CMS expanded the payment program to a broader group of healthcare providers in late March to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19. On April 7, the agency said it had distributed $34 billion in funds to healthcare providers and suppliers through the program in the past week. Two days later, CMS said the amount had grown to $51 billion.

CMS has received roughly 32,000 requests from healthcare providers and suppliers for advance payments in the past week, and 21,000 of those requests have been approved. That's compared to the 100 total requests CMS approved in the past five years. 

To help hospitals under financial strain due to COVID-19, CMS has reduced the processing time for advance payment requests to less than one week, compared to the previous time frame of three to four weeks. Acute care hospitals, children's hospitals, critical access hospitals and some cancer hospitals can request up to six months of advance Medicare payments through the program.

The payments are not part of the $100 billion emergency fund authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to reimburse healthcare providers for expenses or lost revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The advance payments are a loan that healthcare providers must pay back, while funding provided under the CARES Act does not need to be repaid. 

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