On Monday, December 28th, 2020 President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Actwhich includes a second round of increased flexibilities to individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemicThis new legislation includes critical priorities for hospitals and health systems including additional accommodations and updates to provider relief funds, additional money for telehealth grant programs, drug pricing transparency requirements, and more provisions. Advis previously provided a summary of key impacts relating to healthcare and summarizes all additional key provisions:

Updates to CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds

The Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) was created as part of the CARES Act to be distributed to state and local governments for reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses. Prior to the new funding legislation, state and local government entities were required to utilize CRF funding by December 30, 2020. This date has now been extended to December 31, 2021. 

Medicare Reimbursement Updates

Multiple revisions to Medicare reimbursement for providers were introduced in the CAA to provide additional flexibility beginning with elimination of the 2 percent payment cut to the Medicare sequester, now extended through March 2021. 

Critical access hospitals (CAHs), or rural hospitals with less than 50 beds can now be converted to a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) and gain access to a new Medicare payment system for reimbursement. This conversion allows providers to continue allocating emergency care in facilities no longer operating as fully inpatient hospitals. REHs will be reimbursed under applicable Medicare prospective payment systems, plus an additional monthly facility payment and an add-on payment for hospital outpatient services. 

Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are now permitted to provide and bill Medicare for hospice physician services starting January 21, 2022. New legislations additionally introduced Medicare payment reform for RHCs aimed at increasing the statutory payment cap over the next eight years. 

Medicare Updates for Workforce Support

In support of the physician workforce development, $3 billion in additional payments have been allocated for physician services under the CY 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Additionally, 1,000 new Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) positions have been created along with revisions to Rural Training Tracks (RTTs) program to grant increased flexibilities for rural and urban hospitals. 

FCC Telehealth Grant Program Updates

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received and additional $250 million to continue funding providers in the provision of telehealth services, following the July completion of grant allocation from the initial $200 million funding. The FCC is now required to provide access to the Telehealth Grant Program to all states. 

For more information please contact Advis online or by calling 708-478-7030.

Published: January 8, 2021