Medical Billing ServicesRevenue Cycle Management (RCM)

Upfront Medicare Reimbursement during COVID-19 Pandemic

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an expansion of its accelerated and advanced payment program for Medicare-participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This program expansion, which includes changes from the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is one way that CMS is working to lessen the financial hardships of providers facing extraordinary challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensures the nation’s providers can focus on patient care. There has been significant disruption to the healthcare industry, with providers being asked to delay non-essential surgeries and procedures, other healthcare staff unable to work due to childcare demands, and disruption to billing, among the challenges related to the pandemic.

Accelerated and advance Medicare payments provide emergency funding and addresses cash flow issues based on historical payments when there is a disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing. These expedited payments are typically offered in natural disasters to accelerate cash flow to the impacted health care providers and suppliers. In this situation, CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the public health emergency related to COVID-19.  The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers, and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers.

Eligibility:

To qualify for accelerated or advance payments, the provider or supplier must:

  • Have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days immediately prior to the date of signature on the provider’s/ supplier’s request form,
  • Not be in bankruptcy,
  • Not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation, and
  • Not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments.

Amount of Payment:

Qualified providers/suppliers will be asked to request a specific amount using an Accelerated or Advance Payment Request form provided on each MAC’s website. Most providers and suppliers will be able to request up to 100% of the Medicare payment amount for a three-month period. Inpatient acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, and certain cancer hospitals are able to request up to 100% of the Medicare payment amount for a six-month period. Critical access hospitals (CAH) can request up to 125% of their payment amount for a six-month period.

Processing Time:

Each MAC will work to review and issue payments within seven (7) calendar days of receiving the request.

Repayment:

CMS has extended the repayment of these accelerated/advance payments to begin 120 days after the date of issuance of the payment.

The repayment timeline is broken out by provider type below:

  • Inpatient acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, certain cancer hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) have up to one year from the date the accelerated payment was made to repay the balance.
  • All other Part A providers and Part B suppliers will have 210 days from the date of the accelerated or advance payment was made to repay the balance.

Recoupment and Reconciliation

  • The provider/supplier can continue to submit claims as usual after the issuance of the accelerated or advance payment; however, recoupment will not begin for 120 days. Providers/ suppliers will receive full payments for their claims during the 120-day delay period. At the end of the 120-day period, the recoupment process will begin and every claim submitted by the provider/supplier will be offset from the new claims to repay the accelerated/advanced payment. Thus, instead of receiving payment for newly submitted claims, the provider’s/supplier’s outstanding accelerated/advance payment balance is reduced by the claim payment amount. This process is automatic.
  • The majority of hospitals including inpatient acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, certain cancer hospitals, and critical access hospitals will have up to one year from the date the accelerated payment was made to repay the balance. That means after one year from the accelerated payment, the MACs will perform a manual check to determine if there is a balance remaining, and if so, the MACs will send a request for repayment of the remaining balance, which is collected by direct payment. All other Part A providers not listed above and Part B suppliers will have up to 210 days for the reconciliation process to begin.
  • For the small subset of Part A providers who receive Period Interim Payment (PIP), the accelerated payment reconciliation process will happen at the final cost report process (180 days after the fiscal year closes).

Eligible providers and suppliers will have to request a specific amount using an Accelerated or Advance Payment Request form, which can be found on each Medicare Administrative Contractor’s (MAC) website. CMS notes in a fact sheet that most providers and suppliers will be able to request up to 100 percent of the Medicare payment amount for a three-month period. Inpatient acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, and certain cancer hospitals will be able to request that amount for a six-month period. Furthermore, critical access hospitals are able to request up to 125 percent of their payment amount for a six-month period.

Visit our blog section for more resources on COVID-19. These resources will help you to prepare your practice and address patient concerns during COVID-19 pandemic. To get reimbursed for medical services rendered during COVID-19 pandemic, contact Medical Billers and Coders (MBC) at 888-357-3226/info@medicalbillersandcoders.com

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Catering to more than 40 specialties, Medical Billers and Coders (MBC) is proficient in handling services that range from revenue cycle management to ICD-10 testing solutions. The main goal of our organization is to assist physicians looking for billers and coders, at the same time help billing specialists looking for jobs, reach the right place.

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