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COVID-19 Relief Package: Highlights and Impacts for Healthcare Providers

Congress passed the largest economic stimulus package in history on Friday, March 27 — a plan that distributes $2.2 trillion for COVID-19 relief.1, 2 There are various provisions specific to healthcare, and funding amounts to more than $100 billion to hospitals. This financial assistance aims to help the healthcare industry in this difficult and uncertain time.

Below, I’ve outlined some key takeaways and benefits from this relief package and other relevant bills for providers.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)3
This law allocates $100 billion for Medicare and Medicaid funding as well as sick and childcare leave. These funds have direct and indirect advantages, and are in place to:

  • Expand Medicaid eligibility for uninsured for testing (optional for states)

  • Increase Medicaid FMAP and unemployment benefits

  • Improve family, medical and sick leave for certain employers

  • Cover diagnostic tests and related services at no cost for uninsured, public and private health insurance plans

As a result of this law, providers will have increased reimbursement, less administrative burden, reduced numbers of uninsured patients (from states electing to increase Medicaid enrollment), and staffing benefits.

Quick tip:
These funds will drive an increase in newly insured patients, as well as charity screenings. It’s advisable for organizations to have a comprehensive insurance discovery solution in place to identify any missed coverage opportunities, along with a strong financial assistance process to correctly classify patients by charity care or bad debt. Many of these solutions can be seamlessly integrated into your existing processes.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act4
This law provides $8.3 billion in funding for providers to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19. While much of this law specifically funds research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, it also allows healthcare providers to:

  • Apply money (at a state-level) to Medicaid and indigent care funds

  • Offset expenses with funding for medical supplies, staffing, workflow and surge preparedness for capacity

  • Improve Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services

  • Reduce pharmacy costs for vaccine, once developed

Quick tip:
Ensure your charity and Medicaid eligibility processes are up to date, helping enable maximized reimbursement. Financial aid and insurance discovery solutions may help streamline these efforts.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act5
This law was in direct response to the healthcare industry’s request for assistance to treat COVID-19, and specifically addresses infrastructure, staffing and treatment costs. Some key highlights include.

  • “$100 billion for ‘COVID-19-related expenses and lost revenue’

  • $275 million for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers and HIV/AIDS programs

  • $250 million for hospital capacity expansion and response”5

  • Suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020

  • Delay $4 billion in scheduled Medicaid DSH cuts from May 22 to Nov. 30, 2020

  • 20% add-on payment to DRG rate for COVID-19 patients

  • Option for some hospitals (rural and frontier) to request an advanced lump sum of up to six months or periodic Medicare payments

This law will offer the financial support many hospitals and health systems desperately need now and in the months ahead.

Quick tip:
Ensure resources are in place to calculate advance payments and other financial relief from this law. Consider leveraging a business partner with expertise in this area to assist in calculations and provisions. Increased Medicaid enrollees and increased reimbursement from public payers are significant opportunities under the CARES law.

For more information on how TransUnion Healthcare can assist your organization as we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, please reach out to your representative or complete the form below.

1https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-lawmakers-race-to-washington-to-ensure-coronavirus-stimulus-passes-11585318472

2https://www.aha.org/advisory/2020-03-25-senate-white-house-reach-agreement-relief-package-responding-covid-19

3https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2020/03/AHACoronavirusUpdateSenatePassesBill_3-19-20.pdf

4https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/issue-brief/the-u-s-response-to-coronavirus-summary-of-the-coronavirus-preparedness-and-response-supplemental-appropriations-act-2020/

5https://www.hfma.org/topics/news/2020/03/coronavirus-bill-provides-hospitals-with--100-billion--other-pol.html

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