CMS Expands Medicare Accelerated Payment Program to Help with COVID-19 Cash Flow Challenges

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this weekend that it is expanding its “accelerated and advance payment program” for Medicare providers, stating a need to further support the organizations on the frontline battling COVID-19.

For home health agencies, COVID-19 has affected cash flow in a variety of ways, with many going through months’ worth of supplies in mere days and others seeing patients refuse visits.

Accelerated and advance Medicare payments generally provide emergency funding based on historical payments when there is disruption in claims submission or claims processing.

Normally, expedited payments are offered when providers struggle due to hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. With its recent announcement, CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the public health emergency related to COVID-19.

While most types of Medicare providers and suppliers can request accelerated payments, there are several conditions those parties must meet.

To qualify for accelerated or advance payments, providers and suppliers must have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days immediately prior to any request. Providers in bankruptcy are not eligible for accelerated payments, nor are providers under active medical review or program integrity investigation. Providers with outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments are also not allowed to ask for advance payment.

According to CMS, Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs), such as National Government Services (NGS) in New York, will start accepting and processing the accelerated and advance payment requests immediately. CMS has indicated MACs can issue payments within seven days of a provider’s request.

Under accelerated payment rules, most providers and suppliers will be able to request up to 100 percent of their Medicare reimbursement amount for a three-month period, according to CMS. After 120 days from when they received an accelerated payment, home health agencies will then have 210 days to repay their balance.

HCA members interested in submitting a request for accelerated or advance payments can do by completing this NGS form.