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. Additionally, a condition to receiving the reimbursement is that hospitals cannot balance bill uninsured patients for Coronavirus care.
While $100 billion is a lot of money, if it were to be evenly disbursed across the country, it would mean about $108,000 per hospital bed in the United States. But with hospitals not knowing how much will go to covering uninsured patients, and without a lot of additional guidance, an article in Health Leaders suggested hospitals prepare to submit quantifiable information as soon as possible.
Groups like the American Hospital Association have taken notice to the addition of covering uninsured patients and the ramifications this will have on continuity of service. In a Revcycle Intelligence article, AHA president and CEO said:
“Because hospitals and health systems, and our dedicated caregivers are on the front lines of this pandemic, we continue to urge the release of the CARES Act emergency relief funds as soon as possible. This critical funding will help ensure that our health care providers can continue to be there for everyone and have the support and resources that are needed to deliver care to their patients and communities.”
If you have concerns about this shift in funding, contact your associations and have your voice heard. Let them know how this will impact your ability to survive.
As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, it will be important to stay fluid and find as many options as possible to strengthen your bottom line. Between the CARES Act funding hospitals with $100 billion and the Paycheck Protection Program that can help with payroll needs, hospitals can find a few more tools for the fight against COVID-19.