Details Of Congressional COVID-19 Legislative Accord Emerge
Staff Contact: Daniel Landon
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote sometime today on a major COVID-19 stimulus legislative proposal that has emerged from lengthy negotiations. Final technical details are being worked through, but the text and a summary of the pending legislation provide insight into its components.
The bill provides for $100 billion in financial assistance to health care providers for COVID-19-related expenses and lost revenues, as well as a temporary suspension of Medicare sequestration from May through the end of December. It also would boost Medicare payments for treating COVID-19 patients by 20%, delay pending reductions in states’ allocations of federal funding to support Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payments, and clarify telemedicine requirements and payments for rural health clinics as a site of service.
Based on the March 23 MHA membership call with Missouri’s U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, two important changes were added to the final bill. One clarifies that the funding from the $100 billion fund for health care providers will be allocated on a rolling basis rather than the ordinary process of processing grant disbursements. This will permit quicker distribution of funds. Also, as described in section 3719 of the summary document, the bill includes an expansion of the accelerated Medicare payment program known as periodic interim payments. It allows hospitals to receive advance payments based on prior period payments, with a higher payment limit for critical access hospitals.
MHA deeply appreciates the responsiveness of Senators Blunt and Hawley to the concerns raised on the MHA membership conference call.
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Missouri Medicaid Caseload Rebounds In February
Staff Contact: Brian Kinkade
Missouri’s Medicaid caseload increased in February by 1,850 to 848,000. February marked the first increase in the Medicaid caseload since October 2019. Despite the increase, the current caseload is 5% lower than this time last year, and nearly 15% lower than April 2017 when nearly 1 million Missourians were covered by the program. Children account for most of the drop in the caseload.
Governor Parson recently announced that Medicaid redeterminations will be suspended, and the Family First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law by President Trump on March 18 prohibits states from removing persons from Medicaid coverage during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis unless they move out of the state. The federal prohibition is a condition of the state receiving federal relief in the form of a 6.2% increase in the federal matching funds rate. These changes, coupled with the anticipated sharp decline in economic activity portend increasing Medicaid case counts in the months to come.
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