Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that $30 billion is being distributed immediately – with payments arriving via direct deposit beginning April 10, 2020 – to eligible providers throughout the American health care system. This $30 billion is part of the CARES Act that provides $100 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other health care providers on the front lines of COVID-19.
These are payments, not loans, to health care providers, and will not need to be repaid. However, there are terms and conditions attached to these payments. We urge any provider who receives a payment from CMS to review the terms and conditions prior to accepting the deposited funds. We are awaiting clarification from HHS on details surrounding these terms and conditions and will alert you as soon as possible.
You can view the full announcement here, but below are the updates specific to you as a physician:
- How are payment distributions determined?
- A provider can estimate their payment by dividing their 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by $484,000,000,000, and multiply that ratio by $30,000,000,000. Providers can obtain their 2019 Medicare FFS billings from their organization's revenue management system.
- As an example: A community hospital billed Medicare FFS $121 million in 2019. To determine how much they would receive, use this equation:
- $121,000,000/$484,000,000,000 x $30,000,000,000 = $7,500,000
- What to do if you are an eligible provider?
- Providers will be paid via Automated Clearing House account information on file with UHG or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
- The automatic payments will come to providers via Optum Bank with "HHSPAYMENT" as the payment description.
- Providers who normally receive a paper check for reimbursement from CMS, will receive a paper check in the mail for this payment as well, within the next few weeks.
- Within 30 days of receiving the payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the terms and conditions of payment. The portal for signing the attestation will be open the week of April 13, 2020, and will be linked on this page.
- Is this different than the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program?
- Yes. The CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program has delivered billions of dollars to healthcare providers to help ensure providers and suppliers have the resources needed to combat the pandemic. The CMS accelerated and advance payments are a loan that providers must pay back. For more information from CMS, click here.
- How this applies to different types of providers
- Employed Physicians: Employed physicians should not expect to receive an individual payment directly. The employer organization will receive the relief payment as the billing organization.
- Physicians in a Group Practice: Individual physicians and providers in a group practice are unlikely to receive individual payments directly, as the group practice will receive the relief fund payment as the billing organization. Providers should look to the part of their organization that bills Medicare to identify details on Medicare payments for 2019 or to identify the accounts where they should expect relief payments.
- Solo Practitioners: Solo practitioners who bill Medicare will receive a payment under the TIN used to bill Medicare.
View the full summary from HHS here.