Providers responding to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak will now be able to receive accelerated and advanced Medicare payments, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Saturday.

The agency is expanding its Medicare accelerated and advanced payment program to ensure providers and suppliers have enough resources needed to combat COVID-19, administration officials said. The move comes after the passage of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package. 

The program — which is typically offered during natural disasters — provides emergency funding and addresses cash flow issues based on historical payments when there is disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing, CMS explained. 

Providers and suppliers must have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days immediately prior to the date of signature on the provider’s/ supplier’s request form; not be in bankruptcy; not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation; and not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments In order to qualify for the program. 

CMS Administrator Seema Verma

“Unfortunately, the major disruptions to the healthcare system caused by COVID-19 are a significant financial burden on providers. Today’s action will ensure that they have the resources they need to maintain their all-important focus on patient care during the pandemic,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. 

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill aimed at helping the economy during the pandemic. Among the notables for the nursing home industry, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will receive $200 million to assist providers  with infection control and to support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities.
  • Federal health officials on Saturday issued an electronic toolkit for nursing homes interested in establishing permanent or temporary telemedicine programs. The eight-page guide offers links to a variety of sources about telehealth and telemedicine, and includes information about CMS’s national expansion of telemedicine coverage last week.
  • As of Sunday, COVID-19 was responsible for 122,653 total cases and 2,112 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which updates its figures at noon every weekday.  
  • And from the “Things that make you smile” annals during these surreal times: A New Jersey nursing home used music from “Beauty and the Beast” for a PSA music video offering advice on how to prevent coronavirus, while community members honored workers at a Texas facility by placing a broad “Heroes work & live here!” lawn sign in front of the property.