Your Resource Center for the Coronavirus Pandemic
As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, healthcare providers across the country are facing new challenges and obstacles. What we knew yesterday is different than what we know today and will most likely look different tomorrow. The Americollect COVID-19 Resource Center contains valuable information that can assist your facility during these unprecedented times. We strive to assure all hospitals are aware of the tools being offered to help in the fight against the Coronavirus.
Want to learn about how Americollect is finding Ridiculously Nice ways to minimize the impact COVID-19 has on our operations? Click here to read about what we are doing to continue working with our clients, keeping their revenue intact during this turbulent time.
Maintaining Collections During a Pandemic – Part 2
As hospitals across the country continue to battle COVID-19, the financial crunch is hitting as hard as the virus. In fact, an American Hospital Association report estimates that over the four-month period from March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020, American hospitals and health systems will experience $202.6 billion in losses, or an average of $50.7 billion per month, due to the Coronavirus.
In the first article, we talked about some of the causes for the painful revenue losses hospitals and health systems are experiencing. From the cost of treating COVID-19 patients and increases in PPE prices to the downturn in elective surgeries and additional support some are providing their workers, it feels like hospitals and healthcare systems are being hit from all sides.
While the outlook may seem quite bleak, there are some factors that are working in favor of hospitals and health systems during the Coronavirus pandemic. Because many states have established stay at home orders or at least suggested them, people are not shopping like in the past. In fact, a report by the Visual Capitalist shows that between late February and mid-May, consumer spending was down nearly 30-percent year over year. With non-essential shopping closed, restaurants relying on takeout and delivery, and travel nearly nonexistent, people are not spending money at the same clip as they have before. While online shopping has increased, it hasn’t fully replaced going to the mall or their favorite store. This means in general, people have more of their income available for other expenses, such as past due medical bills.
The Debate: When will Hospital Volumes Return?
The other day when we were gathering around the virtual water cooler, the topic of hospitals and the impact COVID-19 has had on them came up like it has a lot lately. After a little light banter, the discussion zeroed in on when hospitals will return to normal. We imagine you have thoughts on that topic, too!
The Coronavirus has had a major impact on our healthcare systems. According to a May report from Crowe, current inpatient admissions are more than 30-percent below normal levels when compared to January 2020. Emergency room visits are down 40-percent, observation services have seen a 47-percent decline, and outpatient ancillary services and surgeries are down 62- and 71-percent respectively, in the same time period.
As we continued to talk about when hospitals would return to even 75-percent of their previous caseloads, two voices started to rise above the others. These two had extremely different opinions, about as far apart on the spectrum as you can get, like just about everything else they start talking about. We’ll call them Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist. (And yes, you know he’s a pessimist if he’s ok with being called “Mr. Pessimist.”)
Funding COBRA for your Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
In early May, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the April unemployment rate reached 14.7-percent, and a Forbes article claimed that number could grow to 30-percent as a result of the ongoing health crisis. In addition to lost wages, these same people are finding themselves without health insurance during the Coronavirus pandemic, leaving them struggling to find ways to continue paying healthcare premiums through COBRA or other offerings.
This is impacting hospitals that are trying to stretch every dollar to stay solvent while dealing with COVID-19, which is not an easy task. Combine that with patients who are finding themselves newly unemployed with no insurance, the level of care can decline – but it doesn’t have to.
Some patients may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which can provide some coverage, while others could qualify for plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Hospitals may also bill the patient in the hopes that they elect to pay for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage.
Hospitals to receive an additional $75 Billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
On Friday, President Trump signed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act into law, the fourth economic stimulus package since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new package’s goal is to augment the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare funding of the CARES Act that was passed in March and quickly ran out of funds.
This new bill contains $370 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is set aside for medium, small and community lenders. Healthcare facilities with fewer than 500 employees are able to utilize this program like the first round. Another $75 billion has been set aside specifically to reimburse providers for the cost of treating COVID-19 patients. These funds will be available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) like the previous round of funding. Finally, $25 billion has been authorized specifically for developing and implementing testing protocols.
Like many other businesses, healthcare providers may have found themselves unable to receive funding from the initial round of PPP, since the initial funds were depleted by April 17. The Small Business Administration resumed accepting applications on Monday, April 27 for the current act. The Department of the Treasury has released a Frequently Asked Questions to help navigate the PPP.
The CARES Act: $100 Billion in Healthcare Funding and Your Hospital
When the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) act was announced in late March, the funds promised were to be distributed to many areas, including, arguably the most negatively impacted area, the healthcare field. The CARES Act funding hospitals is not only important for healthcare, but for the nation as a whole.
The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, which usually works with an annual budget of $2.6 billion, received $100 billion to reimburse both non-profit and for-profit hospitals for expenses and lost revenue cause by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been tasked with dispersing these funds as quickly as possible to minimize the impact COVID-19 is having on our healthcare providers.
Originally, hospitals believed they could apply for money to use towards a range of Coronavirus-related expenses ranging from medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves, to larger equipment and buildings like beds, ventilators and temporary structures to house patients, but during an April 3rd Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that at least a portion the $100 billion fund will be used to reimburse hospitals at Medicare rates for uncompensated COVID-19 care for the uninsured.
How the Paycheck Protection Program can help your Hospital
When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, the news focused on the money to be sent to each American to help ease the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
But what about the businesses that are feeling the crunch? An important part of the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program, which allocates nearly $350 billion to support emergency loans to qualifying businesses – including some hospitals and physicians, intended to help business keep their staff employed through these uncertain times.
This program, which is administered by the Small Business Administration, makes loans of up to $10 million available for organizations with less than 500 total employees (i.e., both full and part time). The money can be used for salaries and wages, leave and health benefits, rent, and/or retirement obligations, among other uses. For-profit and non-profit hospitals that meet the affiliation rules are eligible for these loans. Even more enticing, these loans may be forgivable if certain guidelines for use are met. The American Hospital Association estimated that 700 hospitals may be eligible to apply for $7 billion under the loan provisions.
Maintaining Collections During a Pandemic
In late January the Coronavirus reached the United States, radically changing the trajectory of 2020 in ways we won’t soon forget. No area has experienced more disruption and uncertainty than healthcare. From shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators to reductions in elective procedures, from expectations of additional strain on emergency services to unclear revenue outcomes with questions about collections during a pandemic, the concerns for healthcare providers right now seem endless.
Hospitals can expect to feel financial pressure from this pandemic on several fronts. First, according to Rhett Brown, Managing Director, Research Analyst at Lazard Asset Management, in an article in The Bond Buyer, patients will choose to forgo profitable elective procedures this year, and the resulting excess capacity may or may not be replaced with treatments for patients with Coronavirus. And those treatments will end up costing hospitals additional revenue. Health Leaders predicts that nearly all hospitals would lose an average of $2,800 per Covid-19 patient case if reimbursement rates are not increased from the currently proposed rate.
We are hearing these same concerns directly from our clients. One shared that they are already experiencing a 30-percent reduction in their daily census, and if it continues, they predict a 50-percent drop in revenue
Preparing for COVID-19 with Americollect
When COVID-19 reached the United States in late January, nobody could have predicted how quickly it would change the trajectory of 2020 in ways we won’t soon forget. While we keep those affected in our thoughts, we must prepare for the unknown and ensure hospitals are able to care for their patients.
Americollect has been preparing and finding Ridiculously Nice ways to minimize the impact the Coronavirus has on our operations so that we can continue to work with our clients, keeping their revenue intact during this turbulent time.