fah hospital policy blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

FAH Outlines COVID Relief Priorities in Letter to Senate Leaders

May 28, 2020 | FAH Policy Blog Team

Category: Health Care Delivery, Legislation

WASHINGTON - The Federation of American Hospitals sent a letter to Senate leaders today outlining priorities for upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation. They include refining repayment terms for the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program, ensuring the newly unemployed can maintain their private health coverage and enacting liability protections for caregivers and hospitals.

“Your bold and rapid action has been critical in enabling the nation’s health care providers to help meet the enormous immediate challenges posed by COVID-19. Unfortunately, the task at hand is far broader in its scope and urgent in its need than any undertaking in my lifetime, and it is evident that more must be done to ensure our ability to continue providing quality care to our patients and communities,” wrote FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn. The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

A top priority for hospitals – adjusting the repayment terms for the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program.

The Program has been critical lifeline for hospitals during the fight to defeat COVID-19, but health care providers must start repaying the funds in a matter of weeks. CMS will garnish Medicare payments for providers who used the Program, effectively eliminating their Medicare reimbursement amid this ongoing crisis. Without modification, this will place insurmountable financial stress on already struggling facilities and providers.

FAH outlined several necessary changes to the Program including: ending the current pause in the Program so additional funds can be made available; increasing the number of months’ worth of funds that can be advanced to hospitals; extending the period before repayment begins and the period before interest begins to accrue; reducing the amount of the per-claim repayment percentage; waiving the interest rate or, at a minimum, capping the rate at one percent; and allocating the funds from general revenues rather than from the Medicare Trust Fund.

The letter goes on to outline steps Congress can take to ensure that Americans, especially the newly unemployed, can maintain or gain access to affordable health insurance coverage, particularly Employer Sponsored Insurance.

FAH also urges the Senate to build on efforts already underway to provide liability protection for caregivers and hospitals. It is vital to protect the good faith efforts of those on the front lines of this pandemic. 

You can find the complete letter here.