The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered approximately $34 billion in one week from the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to help healthcare providers test and treat patients for the novel coronavirus.
In less than two weeks, CMS received more than 25,000 requests from healthcare providers and suppliers for accelerated and advance payments. The agency already has approved some 17,000 of those requests in the last week. By comparison, CMS approved slightly more than 100 total requests in the past five years, most of which were due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
Payments are available to Medicare Part A providers, including hospitals, and Part B suppliers, which include doctors, nonphysician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers. While most of these professionals and entities can receive three months of Medicare reimbursements, certain providers now can receive up to six months of reimbursements.
Given the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, CMS also has expedited disbursement of the funds through reduced processing times to four to six days, compared with three to four weeks under more normal circumstances.