The effectiveness of the federal government’s move to extend the repayment terms for providers who received advanced Medicare payments during the pandemic will depend “how quickly the industry and entities most impacted are able to rebound,” one expert predicted. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week announced loan repayment for the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment program will now begin one year from the date that providers received the accelerated or advanced payment. Originally, providers were required to begin paying back their loans starting in August.

“CMS’ recent decision to delay repayment of loans made at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, while helpful, is impactful only to the extent that SNF financial performance and occupancy shift in a more positive direction in 2021,” Amber Rogotzke, president of Health Dimensions Group, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Friday. 

“While some organizations likely applied and received these funds prior to having the HHS Provider Relief Funds and have not had to tap into the loans, others have had to utilize these funds because of the devastation on occupancy and cash that COVID-19 has imposed and they have exhausted all other funding sources and options,” she explained. 

Rogotzke added that whether the loan repayment delay is impactful or not depends on how quickly the industry and the entities most impacted are able to rebound and what future funding sources may become available. 

“If the impact of COVID-19 lasts long, then this is really just pushing a cash shortage issue down the road for a later day for some senior care providers, who will need a robust action plan and more funding to make it through the post-pandemic period,” Rogotzke she noted.