The Senate passed the $2 trillion bipartisan Coronavirus Stimulus Bill 3/25/2020 and the House passed this bill 3/27/2020 with President Trump signing the bill into law the same day. The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill includes $200 million in funding for CMS to assist nursing homes with infection control and prevention of the spread of COVID-19. The funding also strengthens infection-control inspections of nursing homes that is fundamental to CMS’ COVID-19 response and compliance strategy.
The bill includes The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that supports the healthcare system with a $100 billion fund routed through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF). This fund provides grants to hospitals, public entities, non-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed health care related costs or lost proceeds as a result of COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will review applications and disperse pre-payment (paid in advance), prospective payment, and retrospective payment on a regular basis with those details being released soon. It is recommended to apply swiftly because of the demand and limitation of funds. Examples of expenses include building of temporary structures, retrofitting or leasing of properties, increased staffing and training and medical supplies and equipment including PPE and other expenses. Expenses reimbursed or delegated to be reimbursed by insurance or other means do not qualify nonetheless entities can apply for the PHSSEF funding and other sources of funding concurrently. However, if funds are replicated, the PHSSEF funds are required to be repaid.
Furthermore, The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill temporarily suspends the 2% Medicare sequestration cuts from May until the end of the year and places an all-inclusive 2% temporary increase on Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements. Also, the 7(a) Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program allows small businesses and 501(c)(3) non-profit health organizations to apply for a loan of up to 250% of the businesses’ average monthly payroll costs for eight weeks of payroll in addition to help with other expenses such as mortgage payments, rent, and utilities. This loan will be forgiven if employee and salary levels are maintained. If these are not maintained, a ten-year maximum term and 4% interest rate will apply. The program dates back to February 15, 2020 so that laid-off staff may return and is available through June 30, 2020. Other items in the stimulus bill that may be beneficial for long term care providers, include deferment of the 6.2% payroll tax childcare funding for employees in the healthcare field which in turn supports frontline caregivers.
Resources: Skilled Nursing News
Blog by Kristen Walden, MSN, RN RAC-CT, Proactive Medical Review