June 03, 2020
On Wednesday, key Congressional leaders wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar raising concerns and demanding answers about the delay in disbursing provider relief funds to Medicaid-dependent providers.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) cautioned that the delay “could result in long term financial hardship for providers who serve some of our most vulnerable populations.”
In an effort to provide critical financial relief to health care providers struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress appropriated $100 billion for health care providers in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and another $75 billion in subsequent coronavirus relief legislation.
HHS moved quickly to allocate $30 billion in funds based on 2019 Medicare reimbursements, and supplemented this with $20 billion to reflect 2018 total reimbursements from all payors. However, providers that depend on Medicaid for a large source of their payments have not yet received a meaningful allocation.
“Many of these providers are safety net providers that operate on thin profit margins, if at all,” the letter said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has strained their already scarce resources, threatening their ability to keep their doors open in the midst of a declared public health emergency.”
The California Medical Association has also been urging Congress to quickly provide relief to physicians and specialties who do not have a Medicare-heavy caseload, such as Medicaid providers, pediatricians, obstetricians, allergists and psychiatrists.
You can view the full letter here.