Heeding Shaheen’s Call, Trump Admin Announces Support for Fix to Medicare Program Interest Rates for Health Care Providers on the Frontlines

April 21, 2020

Shaheen has been leading the bipartisan call in Congress for the administration to address Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program interest rates for health care providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. 

To date, New Hampshire providers have received $652 million in upfront payments through this program to mitigate the economic shortfall caused by the pandemic.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after the Trump administration agreed to heed her call to address Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program interest rates for health care providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The administration committed to supporting measures in future coronavirus response legislation to allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to modify interest rates and extend the period of time for upfront payments to be paid back in full. The administration has also agreed to fund these changes through general revenues, so that the Medicare trust fund is not depleted and Medicare premiums do not rise as a result of the interest rate relief and delay in the pay-back periods. This decision came after Shaheen led a bipartisan call in Congress with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) for CMS to waive or modify interest rates for health care providers who’ve sought financial assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic through Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program. To date, New Hampshire providers have received $652 million in upfront payments through this program to mitigate the economic shortfall caused by the pandemic.

“Hospitals and providers throughout New Hampshire have been forced to lay off hundreds of health care personnel, with some on the verge of closing their doors. Every option to deliver financial relief and security to health care providers must be on the table, so I’m very pleased the administration heeded my call to address these interest rates,” said Shaheen. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant financial strain on our health care system and now more than ever, we must ensure that care is available to all who need it. This program has been an important source of upfront revenue for Granite State providers to mitigate the economic shortfall they’re facing, so I’m glad this fix will provide some relief as we work through this crisis. I appreciate the bipartisan support in Congress – and from the administration – to make this a priority in future coronavirus response legislation and I will keep working to ensure that this change becomes law.”

Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program has historically been used to expedite Medicare payments to subsets of Medicare participating providers during very limited circumstances where there is disruption in processing or submission of claims for Medicare services. It was expanded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to allow for hospitals, physicians and other Medicare-participating providers to apply for upfront payments from Medicare to help cover revenue shortfalls as a result of COVID-19. However, the program requires that if these payments are not recouped within certain timeframes (e.g. within one year for hospitals) after the advance payment was made to the health care provider, CMS is required to charge interest on the difference between the amount recouped and the total advance payment amount. Based on current Treasury regulations and rates, the applicable interest rate is set at 10.25 percent for repayment of Medicare’s accelerated and advance payments for hospitals and other health care providers who have not completed repayment by the applicable due date.