Over the weekend, U.S. Representative Michael Waltz led a bipartisan effort with 16 members of the Florida delegation to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to request flexibility on loan repayment interest rates for hospitals fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recently-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a temporary expansion of the current Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program to a larger group of Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers.
Under the expansion, acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals and some cancer facilities statewide will have up to one year to repay their loans but other Medicare Part A and Part B providers will only have 210 days to repay the loan until an interest rate – currently 10.25 percent – hits for the remainder of the loan.
“As Members of the Florida Delegation, we find the interest rate and repayment periods of this program to be especially concerning,” the letter reads in the press release. “The state of Florida is one of ten states with the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Our hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities have been hit especially hard by this outbreak. The main priority of providers in our communities, and across the entire nation, has been caring for the sick. The expansion of the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program will provide critical financial relief to hospitals and providers on the frontlines of this pandemic, however, we must ensure this short-term assistance does not lead to long-term hardships when it comes time to pay back these loans.”
Many of our hospitals are receiving federal loans to keep their doors open & fight #COVID19.
Led a letter with 16 of my #Florida colleagues urging @HHSGov and @CMSGov to give these hospitals the flexibility needed to keep working on behalf of the health of the American people. pic.twitter.com/fhpRnQObeb
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) April 27, 2020
The Florida delegation emphasized the need for interest-free loans with considerable repayment periods so that hospitals and care facilities do not experience long-term hardships as a result of the loans.
“Given the unprecedented circumstances of the current health crisis and the essential role of healthcare facilities and providers, we believe that accelerated and advanced payments should be interest-free loans with considerable repayment periods conducive to maintaining operations,” the letter reads. “We respectfully urge you to consider any option available to provide increased flexibility for interest rates and repayment periods of expanded Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payments, including those made possible under the CARES Act, so our communities have every opportunity to succeed once our country overcomes this hardship.”
To view the bipartisan letter, click HERE.