CMS | Updated Medicare COVID-19 Snapshot

From CMS on January 15

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released our monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. The updated data show over 1.9 million COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and over 493,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The updated snapshot covers the period from January 1 to November 21, 2020. It is based on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims and Medicare Advantage encounter data CMS received by December 18, 2020.

Read on CMS.gov

CMS | Report Highlights Four Years of Accomplishments In Healthcare

From CMS on January 13

Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released “Putting Patients First: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Record of Accomplishment from 2017-2020,” a report highlighting the agency’s transformation in ensuring all Americans have access to quality and affordable healthcare.

The report examines CMS’ accomplishments over the last four years, highlighting agency actions that responded to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and furthered CMS’s Four Core Goals identified in 2017: empowering patients and doctors, ushering in a new era of state flexibility and local leadership, developing innovative approaches, and improving the CMS customer service experience.

Accomplishments covered in the report include the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts through 16 strategic initiatives that resulted in major regulatory actions, changes in guidance, and streamlined processes and procedures – including the reorganization of CMS. It also allows agency staff and leadership to better understand the impacts of policy decisions, while providing a resource to inform future CMS decisions. The report also covers how progress with respect to the Four Core Goals significantly contributed to the agency’s ability to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 public health event.

Access “Putting Patients First: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Record of Accomplishment from 2017-2020.” 

OSHA | Submit Data to the Injury Tracking Application

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it has opened the electronic Injury Tracking Application (ITA), where all employers are required to submit 2020 Injury and Illness Data.  All EMS employers are required to report their yearly Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses.  The Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses is the document that must also be posted in all employer work locations from February 1st through April 30th each year.  For those who have not electronically reported your injury and illness data to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) previously, you will need to establish a user name for your organization in order to electronically report your data.  The deadline for electronically reporting your injury and illness data is March 2, 2021.

We know that this has been an unusually busy work-related illness year for many EMS agencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you have questions or require assistance to ensure that you accurately report your work-related injury and illness data to OSHA, be sure to contact the AAA and its consultants for assistance.

Oregon | President Baird Joins OHA COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee

From the Oregon Department of Human Services on December 31

OHA completes recruitment for COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee

27-member group to create sequencing for COVID-19 immunizations

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority has completed recruitment for its Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) that will determine the sequence in which new COVID-19 vaccines are distributed around the state.

The 27-member committee will advise OHA on vaccine sequencing for phases 1b, 1c and 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, with the goal of prioritizing communities most affected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee will be grounded in OHA’s definition of health equity, which—as cited in this excerpt—is a health system where “all people can reach their full health potential and well-being and are not disadvantaged by their race, ethnicity, language, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, intersections among these communities or identities, or other socially determined circumstances.”

To advance health equity, and counter unjust COVID-19 inequities, the COVID-19 VAC will:

  • Advise OHA on the ethical principles that should guide decisions on sequencing of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Review data on COVID-19 and immunization inequities.
  • Advise OHA on which workers, high-risk groups or critical populations should be sequenced at what time, taking into consideration where they are located across the state.

The committee roster is as follows:

Aileen Duldulao

Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition

Cherity Bloom-Miller

Siletz Community Health Clinic

Christine Sanders

Rockwood Community Development Corp.

Daysi Bedolla Sotelo

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste

DeLeesa Meashintubby

Volunteers in Medicine

Debra Whitefoot

Nch’i Wana Housing

Derick Du Vivier

Oregon Health & Science University

Dolores Martinez

Euvalcree

George Conway

Deschutes County Health Services

Kalani Raphael

Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition

Kelly Gonzales

Portland State University

Kristin Milligan

Community Volunteer Network

Laurie Skokan

Providence Health & Services

Leslie Sutton

Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities

Maleka Taylor

The Miracles Club

Maria Loredo

Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

Marin Arreola

Interface Network

Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown

Crook County Health Department

Musse Olol

Somali American Council of Oregon

Nannette Carter-Jafri

SEIU Local 503 Indigenous People’s Caucus

Ruth Gulyas

LeadingAge Oregon

Safina Koreishi

Columbia Pacific CCO

Sandra McDonough

Oregon Business & Industry

Shawn Baird

Metro West Ambulance Service

Sue Steward

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Tsering Sherpa

The Rosewood Initiative

Zhenya Abbruzzese

Adventist Health

“The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee brings tremendous lived and professional experience to guide OHA’s decisions about vaccine sequencing in a way that upholds OHA’s goal to eliminate health inequities by 2030,” said Cara Biddlecom, OHA deputy public health director.

“Members of this committee represent communities that have been unjustly impacted by COVID-19, including tribal communities and communities of color, and OHA is committed to involving community members in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.”

The committee’s first public meeting is Thursday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon. The meeting can be accessed via conference line at 669-254-5252; meeting ID: 160 583 9896.

For more information about the committee, visit the Vaccine Advisory Committee information page. Comments or questions can be emailed to covid.vaccineadvisory@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Stay informed about COVID-19:

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority leads the state response.

United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads the US response.

Global response: The World Health Organization guides the global response.

CHART Model Community Transformation Track App Deadline Extended

From CMS on December 29, 2020

CHART Model Community Transformation Track Application Deadline Extension

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will extend the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model Community Transformation Track application deadline by one month to March 16, 2021.

This extension is in response to feedback received from stakeholders, including comments about the challenges of preparing an application during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency. Extending the application deadline will allow interested applicants additional time to prepare their applications.

The Community Transformation Track will provide up-front funding to up to 15 rural communities across the country. The rural communities will be awarded seed money to work with health care providers and payers across the community to design systems of care that improve access to high quality care that is sustainable and value-based.

COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group Vax Videos

The Federal Pre-Hospital / EMS COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group put together two wonderful videos to encourage EMS providers to get both the COVID-19 vaccination and seasonal flu shot. Please share with your staff!

Watch Video 1: https://vimeo.com/492847212/3682909c4c

Watch Video 2: https://vimeo.com/492847424/d5a17f6b4c

 

 

Medicare | 2% Sequestration Suspended Through March

From CMS on December 28

Medicare FFS Claims: 2% Payment Adjustment (Sequestration) Suspended Through March

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act suspended the payment adjustment percentage of 2% applied to all Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) claims from May 1 through December 31. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, extends the suspension period to March 31, 2021.

FirstWatch | The Promise, Potential, and Possible Pitfalls of ET3

Firstwatch Webinar on January 22 at Noon ET | Powered by Prodigy EMS

The ET3 program starts in earnest on January 1, 2021. This program has been a long time in the making, which COVID only prolonged.

In this installment of Conversations That Matter, guest facilitator Rob Lawrence explores the path to going live with ET3 with Matt Zavadsky (MedStar Mobile Healthcare, Fort Worth, Texas) and Hanan Cohen (Empress EMS, New York). You’ll learn about what they hope to achieve with their ET3 programs, how they’re measuring quality and success, and the potential for program expansion. They’ll also share their views on whether the new administration in Washington might support continuation or expansion of Treatment in Place and other initiatives that have been implemented as a result of the pandemic.

Register

Guest Host – Rob Lawrence, MCMI

Rob has part-time roles as Director of Strategic Implementation for Pro EMS of Cambridge, Mass. and the Executive Director of the California Ambulance Association. Rob is also the Principal of Robert Lawrence Consulting. Rob served as the California COO with Paramedics Plus after nine years as the COO of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. Prior to that, he was the COO for Suffolk as part of the East of England Ambulance Service. He is a graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, serving for 23 years as a Medical Support Officer. Rob is the Communications Committee Chair of the American Ambulance Association, a member of the EMS World Advisory Board, and an accomplished writer, broadcaster and international speaker.

Matt Zavadsky, MS-HSA, NREMT

Matt Zavadsky is the Chief Strategic Integration Officer at MedStar Mobile Healthcare. Matt has 41 years of EMS experience and has helped guide the implementation and financial sustainability of numerous innovative programs with healthcare partners. Matt is also the President of the National Association of EMTs and chairs their EMS 3.0 committee. He is the co-author of the book “Mobile Integrated Healthcare – Approach to Implementation” published by Jones & Bartlett Publishing. He has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, with a Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Data Management and is a member of the EMS World Advisory Board.

Hanan Cohen

Hanan is the Director of Business Development and Community Paramedicine at Empress EMS. He is a paramedic and community paramedic with 30 years experience in EMS and Hospital Administration. His major focus is on new program design to provide collaborative community health programs with hospitals in Westchester County, New York, and New York City. Through his efforts, Empress EMS launched community paramedic programs for two local hospitals in White Plains and the Bronx. These treat in place programs primarily focus on reducing readmission of high-risk patients with chronic disease to the hospital and preventing the use of the emergency room for non-emergency issues.
Register

EMS.gov | DOT Recognizes NHTSA OEMS Staff with Prestigious Awards

Congratulations to Kate Elkins and OEMS Director Jon Krohmer, MD!

From EMS.Gov

DOT SECRETARY RECOGNIZES KATE ELKINS, JON KROHMER WITH PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has awarded Kate Elkins the Secretary’s Award for her dedication to improving emergency services. An EMS specialist for NHTSA’s Office of EMS, Kate received the honor for her commitment to making a positive impact on EMS and 911 systems. From overseeing the allocation of $109 million in federal 911 grants, to collaborating with federal colleagues, to increasing awareness about mental health and suicide in public safety, she approaches her work with enthusiasm and passion.

Tireless in her efforts to advocate for EMS clinicians and 911 telecommunicators, Kate has provided countless hours of her time, expertise, and experience in doing what she does best—helping others. For example, Kate has focused on efforts to improve EMS pandemic response, serving as the deputy team lead of the Prehospital (EMS/911) Team as part of the HHS/FEMA COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group. At the same time, she continued to serve her local community as a paramedic, chief officer and EMS and public health educator.

The secretary also honored the leaders of the department’s response to the COVID-19 health emergency with a gold medal for outstanding achievement, including Jon Krohmer, MD, director of the NHTSA Office of EMS. Every member of the Office of EMS team has contributed tirelessly to the department’s response and to the interagency COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group.

Congratulations to Kate and the entire team for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

CDC ACIP | Reccs for Allocating Initial COVID-19 Vaccines

From the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, 2020

What is already known about this topic?

Demand is expected to exceed supply during the first months of the national COVID-19 vaccination program.

What is added by this report?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended, as interim guidance, that both 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccine in the initial phase of the vaccination program.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Federal, state, and local jurisdictions should use this guidance for COVID-19 vaccination program planning and implementation. ACIP will consider vaccine-specific recommendations and additional populations when a Food and Drug Administration–authorized vaccine is available.

Continue Reading

Dooling K, McClung N, Chamberland M, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 3 December 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6949e1

ASPR | The Exchange | COVID-19 December Update #2

From the US Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)

Download The Exchange Newsletter PDF

This issue of The Express highlights the following new/updated resources:

Please continue to access our Novel Coronavirus Resources Page and CDC’s Coronavirus webpage and reach out if you need technical assistance (TA).

New! The Exchange, Issue 12–Special Edition: COVID-19 and Healthcare Professional Stress and ResilienceIn the months that have passed since a pandemic was declared, we have witnessed our nation’s healthcare providers working tirelessly to care for patients, with surges testing their facilities’ and their own personal resilience. This kind of work is grueling and can take a significant toll on physical and mental health. The resources developed for/highlighted in this issue can help individuals identify and address risk and the negative mental health effects of stress in themselves, their colleagues, and their staff.New: Crisis Standards of Care and COVID-19: What’s Working and What Isn’t?Speakers in this webinar discussed clinical consultation versus triage support, systems-level information sharing, coalition-level coordination activities, and recent publications/resources to help with planning efforts. Access those and the set of resources referenced during the webinar in our COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Resource Collection.New: Support for Overstretched Clinicians During the Ongoing PandemicIn this video, Dr. Eileen Barrett, Director of Continuous Medical Education and Graduate Medical Education Wellness Initiatives from the University of New Mexico, discusses proactive programs available to support staff during stressful times. Check out the related article in Issue 12 of The Exchange and the entire COVID-19 Healthcare Professional Stress and Resilience speaker series.New: Emergency Responder Self-Care Plan: Behavioral Health PPETaking care of oneself is difficult during a pandemic, where responders experience additional stressors related to home and personal circumstances as well as those brought on by challenging mission demands. This fillable form includes steps people can take to stay healthy and fit for duty while caring for others. The form can be completed before each mission/event and keep handy to help apply coping strategies when things get tough.New: Lessons Learned by a COVID-19 Designated HospitalThe speakers in this brief video share lessons learned when The University Hospital of Brooklyn, the primary teaching hospital for the State University of New York Downstate Health Sciences University, became the only COVID-19 designated hospital in Brooklyn.New: Armed Intruder/Active Shooter Training Module

This free short training module provides healthcare providers and other staff with an overview of strategies and protocols for an armed intruder/active shooter incident. Speakers describe the “run-hide-fight” and “secure-preserve-fight” approaches and share “Stop the Bleed” basics, a video for how to apply a tourniquet, and resources for managing stress. Though this training was created by the Mount Sinai Health System, it is applicable to other healthcare providers and healthcare systems.

 

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice are a collaborative effort between ASPR, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC), and Project ECHO. These interactive virtual learning sessions aim to create a peer-to-peer learning network where clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes; a generous amount of time for participant Q & A is also provided. These webinar topics are covered every week:

  • EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  • Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  • Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)

Access previous webinars and sign up today to receive information on upcoming webinars.

 

The Healthcare & Public Health Sector Partnership led by ASPR’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection is actively engaged in responding to COVID-19. Register here to receive regular response bulletins.

10/22 CMS Ambulance ODF Updated Agenda

From CMS on October 20, 2020

Open Door Forum Dial-In

October 22, 2020 at 1:00–2:30pm ET
Dial: 1-888-455-1397
Conference Passcode: 9375124

The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum scheduled for:

Date:  Thursday October 22, 2020

Start Time:  1:00pm-2:30pm PM Eastern Time (ET);

Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.

Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Susanne Seagrave

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

1. Opening Remarks

  • Acting Chair- Susanne Seagrave, Acting Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market-Based Pricing (Center for Medicare)
  • Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

2. Announcements & Updates

  • Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transport (RSNAT) Prior Authorization Model Update

– https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-expand-successful-ambulance-program-integrity-payment-model-nationwide

  • ET3 Overview and Update

– ET3Model@cms.hhs.gov for inquiries

– ET3 Model Listserv for Model updates:            https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USCMS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USCMS_12521

– COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee For Service (FFS) Billing document is available at: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/03092020-covid-19-faqs-508.pdf.  Ambulance services FAQs begins on page 41.

-CMS is using its statutory authority under section 1135(b)(5) of the Act to modify the data collection and reporting period for ground ambulance organizations that were selected to report in year 1 of the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System. This modification has been issued on page 30 in the following document: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf

3. Open Q&A

**DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE**

Next Ambulance Open Door Forum: TBA

ODF email: AMBULANCEODF@cms.hhs.gov

———————————————————————

This Open Door Forum is open to everyone, but if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov. Thank you.

 

Open Door Participation Instructions:

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 9375124

Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired.  For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Instant Replay: 1-866-448-2572; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed

Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-866-448-2572 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the call has ended. The recording is available until October 24, 11:59PM ET.

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

Were you unable to attend the recent Ambulance ODF call? We encourage you to visit our CMS Podcasts and Transcript webpage where you can listen and view the most recent Ambulance ODF call. Please allow up to three weeks to get both the audio and transcript posted to: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

CMS provides free auxiliary aids and services including information in accessible formats. Click here for more information. This will point partners to our CMS.gov version of the “Accessibility & Nondiscrimination notice” page. Thank you.

CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum Oct 22

From CMS on October 16

Open Door Participation Instructions:

October 22, 1:00–2:30 on ET

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 9375124

Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired.  For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Instant Replay: 1-866-448-2572; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed

Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-866-448-2572 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the call has ended. The recording is available until October 24, 11:59PM ET.

The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum is scheduled for:

Date:  Thursday October 22, 2020

Start Time:  1:00pm-2:30pm PM Eastern Time (ET);

Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.

Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Susanne Seagrave

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

1. Opening Remarks

  • Acting Chair- Susanne Seagrave, Acting Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market-Based Pricing (Center for Medicare)
  • Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

2. Announcements & Updates

3. Open Q&A

**DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE**

Next Ambulance Open Door Forum: TBA

ODF email: AMBULANCEODF@cms.hhs.gov

———————————————————————

This Open Door Forum is open to everyone, but if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov. Thank you.

 

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

Were you unable to attend the recent Ambulance ODF call? We encourage you to visit our CMS Podcasts and Transcript webpage where you can listen and view the most recent Ambulance ODF call. Please allow up to three weeks to get both the audio and transcript posted to: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

CMS provides free auxiliary aids and services including information in accessible formats. Click here for more information. This will point partners to our CMS.gov version of the “Accessibility & Nondiscrimination notice” page. Thank you.

 

NHTSA Office of EMS Annual Update

From the NHTSA Office of EMS

Find out more about what’s been accomplished in 2020 and how you can get involved in national efforts to improve EMS

This year has been like no other for each of you, and the same is true at the NHTSA Office of EMS. Since COVID-19 first hit the United States, we’ve been busy working with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to support EMS clinicians serving on the front lines of our healthcare system.

At the same time, our other important work to advance EMS systems nationwide has continued, from updating the National EMS Education Standards to developing evidence-based guidelines, and so much more. Many of you have continued to contribute to these efforts by serving on expert panels, attending virtual meetings and providing critical feedback. Thank you for these efforts to achieve the vision put forth in EMS Agenda 2050 even as you confront one of the most challenging years we have faced, professionally and personally.

Click here to read our annual summary of what has been accomplished in the last year and what projects are ongoing. You’ll also find links so you can learn more and find ways to participate.

CMS Announces New AAP Repayment Terms

CMS Announces New Repayment Terms for Medicare Loans made to Providers during COVID-19

New recoupment terms allow providers and suppliers one additional year to start loan payments

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced amended terms for payments issued under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program as required by recent action by President Trump and Congress.  This Medicare loan program allows CMS to make advance payments to providers and are typically used in emergency situations.  Under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act repayment will now begin one year from the issuance date of each provider or supplier’s accelerated or advance payment.  CMS issued $106 billion in payments to providers and suppliers in order to alleviate the financial burden healthcare providers faced while experiencing cash flow issues in the early stages of combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency (PHE).

“In the throes of an unprecedented pandemic, providers and suppliers on the frontlines needed a lifeline to help keep them afloat,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  “CMS’ advanced payments were loans given to providers and suppliers to avoid having to close their doors and potentially causing a disruption in service for seniors.  While we are seeing patients return to hospitals and doctors providing care we are not yet back to normal,” she added.

CMS expanded the AAP Program on March 28, 2020 and gave these loans to healthcare providers and suppliers in order to combat the financial burden of the pandemic.  CMS successfully paid more than 22,000 Part A providers, totaling more than $98 billion in accelerated payments.  This included payments to Part A providers for Part B items and services they furnished.  In addition, more than 28,000 Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) suppliers, received advance payments totaling more than $8.5 billion.

Providers were required to make payments starting in August of this year, but with this action, repayment will be delayed until one year after payment was issued.  After that first year, Medicare will automatically recoup 25 percent of Medicare payments otherwise owed to the provider or supplier for eleven months.  At the end of the eleven-month period, recoupment will increase to 50 percent for another six months.  If the provider or supplier is unable to repay the total amount of the AAP during this time-period (a total of 29 months), CMS will issue letters requiring repayment of any outstanding balance, subject to an interest rate of four percent.

The letter also provides guidance on how to request an Extended Repayment Schedule (ERS) for providers and suppliers who are experiencing financial hardships.  An ERS is a debt installment payment plan that allows a provider or supplier to pay debts over the course of three years, or, up to five years in the case of extreme hardship.  Providers and suppliers are encouraged to contact their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) for information on how to request an ERS.  To allow even more flexibility in paying back the loans, the $175 billion issued in Provider Relief funds can be used towards repayment of these Medicare loans.  CMS will be communicating with each provider and supplier in the coming weeks as to the repayment terms and amounts owed as applicable for any accelerated or advance payment issued.