WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 10, 2020)—Earlier today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was distributing $30 billion of a $100 billion fund enacted as part of the CARES Act to compensate Medicare suppliers and providers for expenses incurred and foregone revenue attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. Most home medical equipment and home health providers should qualify for payments from this fund, according to releases provided by the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). On the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund page, HHS emphasized that: these are payments, not loans, to health care providers, and will not need to be repaid.

Some providers have already received payments as of this morning under the program, via electronic payment.

Under the law, Congress made this appropriation to “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus … for necessary expenses to reimburse … eligible health care providers for eligible healthcare related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus.” This program is separate from the accelerated payment program that was also enacted in the CARES program.

AAHomecare worked with HHS to ensure that HME suppliers were included in the definition of “eligible health care providers” as the department developed the program. 

HHS announced that “all facilities and providers that received Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019 are eligible” for the payment. Total fee-for-service Medicare payments in the United States in 2019 were $480 billion. Every provider that billed Medicare in 2019 is eligible to receive a portion of the $30 billion fund, equal to the proportion of their fee-for-service billing to the total $480 billion, multiplied by $30 billion.

For example: A community hospital billed Medicare FFS $121 million in 2019. To determine how much they would receive, use this equation: $121,000,000/$484,000,000,000 x $30,000,000,000 = $7,500,000

HHS has partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to provide rapid payment to providers eligible for the distribution of the initial $30 billion in funds.

Providers that receive the funds will need to sign a certification that they are entitled to the funds and that they are not currently excluded from participation in the Medicare or Medicaid program, or other federal health care programs and do not have their billing privileges revoked. 

After today’s disbursement, there is $70 billion remaining in the CARES fund. HHS has announced that the remaining funds will be targeted to providers and suppliers in COVID “hot spots” as well as providers with low historic Medicare billings. An announcement regarding those funds should be forthcoming in the next ten days. 

Read the full announcement here.