Update June 11:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has opened a portal for physicians who treat Medicaid and CHIP patients to apply for federal emergency assistance related to COVID-19.
Physicians will use the portal to report annual patient revenue, which will be used as a factor in determining their Provider Relief Fund payment, HHS said.
To be eligible, physicians and health care providers must not have received payments from previous relief funds paid to physicians who participate in Medicare. Also, they must have directly billed their state Medicaid/CHIP programs or Medicaid managed care plans for health care-related services between Jan. 1, 2018, and May 31, 2020.
“The payment to each provider will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care,” HHS said. “The final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data is submitted, including information about the number of Medicaid patients providers serve.”
To apply for funds, physicians should carefully review the specific Medicaid/CHIP Provider Relief Terms and Conditions.
The portal is open to all health care professionals, regardless of network affiliation or payer contract, HHS said.
“HHS plans to make publicly available the names of payment recipients and the amounts received, for all providers who attest to receipt of a payment and acceptance of the Terms and Conditions or who retain payments for more than 90 days and are deemed to have accepted the Terms and Conditions,” HHS said. “By accepting funds, the recipient consents to the Department of Health and Human Services publicly disclosing the payments that recipient has received from the Relief Fund.”
The Texas Medical Association has repeatedly pressed state and federal officials for additional support for physicians who did not benefit from the Medicare-based relief payments.
In a letter last week, TMA and six other large state medical associations urged key Senate leaders to pass legislation that would ensure "pediatricians, obstetricians, and Medicaid-dependent providers receive funding."
"These physicians are in the greatest need of funding because their traditionally lower reimbursement rates don’t provide the reserves to sustain their practices through the emergency," the letter said.
Physicians and practices who treat Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) patients will soon be eligible for federal emergency assistance related to COVID-19, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department announced.
The funds – $15 billion – are part of the second round of emergency grants Congress allocated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provider Relief Fund. HHS says it already has provided relief funding to “over one million providers” during the first round of funding, which began in April.
“Today’s announcement is expected to reach several hundred thousand more providers, many of whom are safety net providers operating on thin margins,” HHS said in a statement.
The announcement is welcome news, particularly for pediatricians, obstetrician-gynecologists, and opioid treatment and behavioral health care professionals, whose practices have been hit hard during the pandemic by decreased patient visits and revenue.
During a Texas Medical Association telephone town hall in May, 35% of OB/Gyns said they had seen a major drop in patient volume because of COVID-19; another 38% said they saw a moderate drop.
Also this week, HHS will begin distributing $10 billion in Provider Relief Funds to safety net hospitals.
To help you make informed decisions for your practice during the pandemic, TMA has published a Practice Viability Toolkit that provides up-to-date information and resources. The toolkit includes a section on cash flow, including loan assistance, lines of credit, payment deferrals, loan refinancing, and loans from private banks.
You can find the toolkit and other tools, resources, and information on the practice viability section of the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center.