Hospitals get more time to repay Medicare loans

President Donald Trump on Sept. 30 signed a short-term spending bill that funds the government through Dec. 11 and relaxes the repayment terms for Medicare loans hospitals received earlier this year. 

The funding bill, previously passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, extends the date for when CMS will begin recouping Medicare advance payments that were sent to hospitals to help offset financial strain tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS will wait one year after the loan was issued to begin withholding Medicare payments to recoup the funds. The loans were originally due 120 days after they were issued. 

The spending bill also delays Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment cuts. 

The American Hospital Association commended Congress for passing the bill and thanked CMS Administrator Seema Verma for responding to hospitals' concerns. 

"Medicare accelerated and advance payments have been a lifeline to many hospitals and health systems in the fight against this historic pandemic, allowing them to continue to deliver the care that their patients and communities depend on," the AHA said. "We thank Administrator Verma and CMS for their initial responsiveness to hospital concerns in helping to put these payment programs in place. In addition, we appreciate the responsible manner in which they managed the recoupment process by calibrating it with the impending congressional action. Their approach avoided potential confusion and significant administrative burden at a time when hospitals are focused on the pandemic." 

The AHA is seeking forgiveness of the Medicare loans and pushing to extend the delay of Medicaid DSH payment cuts through the end of fiscal year 2021. 

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