COVID Federal Aid Deadline for Medicaid Clinicians Reset to Aug 3

Kerry Dooley Young

July 20, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The federal government extended to August 3 a deadline for applications for a pool of federal aid intended for pediatricians and other clinicians who serve younger patient populations to alleviate economic hardship brought about by the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in June announced a plan to distribute $15 billion in financial aid to pediatricians and other healthcare professionals who see patients enrolled in Medicaid and the state Children's Health Insurance (CHIP) program.

This is in conjunction with efforts by Congress and HHS to aid physician practices that have lost money during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS began its outreach to clinicians with payments through a separate $50 billion program for clinicians who have patients enrolled in Medicare. HHS also on Friday announced the distribution of $10 billion in a second round of COVID-19 funding to hospitals in high-impact areas starting next week.

The initial deadline for the program for clinicians with patients enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP was July 20. It has been reset to August 3, a senior HHS official said Friday on a call with reporters.

"HHS is continuing to work to get the word out about this program to ensure that as many eligible Medicaid providers as possible have the opportunity to," said a senior department official, who asked not to be named.

The payment for clinicians will be approximately 2% of reported gross revenue from patient care. The final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data are submitted, according to an HHS website.

"Dramatic Financial Challenges"

In a July 14 letter, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) thanked HHS for this $15 billion tranche of funds and for other steps that have been taken to aid physician practices. In the letter, Skye L. Perryman, JD, chief legal officer of ACOG, outlined additional steps HHS could take to aid clinicians who have seen steep reductions in revenue during the pandemic.

ACOG recommendations included the following:

  • Permanently establish payment parity for telehealth and audio-only evaluation and management services and that ensure telephone E/M services (CPT codes 99441-99443) are covered for all patients;

  • Permanently allow services on the Medicare telehealth list to be provided to new patients;

  • Maintain expanded coverage of remote patient monitoring services and include pregnant and postpartum beneficiaries.

Perryman stressed the urgency for continued assistance beyond the steps already taken by HHS and Congress.

"Unfortunately, obstetrician-gynecologists continue to report that their practices face ongoing dramatic financial challenges and fear they will have to close permanently," Perryman wrote. "Many have been forced to furlough staff members, temporarily close their doors, and forgo pay in order to keep their practices afloat during the pandemic."

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