The COVID-19 pandemic is causing dramatic changes in utilization that threaten the financial stability of hospitals and other providers, and may jeopardize access to care during and after the national emergency and well beyond as the country recovers. Federal and state governments are responding to the financial challenges facing providers in several different ways.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is continuing to offer wide-ranging relief from rules that can be a barrier to providing care during the crisis, and has offered states simplified ways to make changes in their Medicaid state plans and to request disaster-related waivers. Several states have submitted Section 1115 waivers requesting CMS approval to establish “disaster relief funds,” paid for with Medicaid dollars, to further assist providers. Congress has also taken action: The three federal stimulus bills enacted to date provide supplemental funding to states, local governments and providers to address the crisis, including a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states and local governments, and a $100 billion fund for providers.
While it will take some time for waiver requests to be reviewed and for the new federal funds to be released, more immediately available tools can help ensure payments continue flowing to providers despite substantial utilization changes. In a new issue brief prepared on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health and Value Strategies program (SHVS), Manatt Health provides federal and state policymakers with a menu of options to immediately increase Medicaid payments and support providers during the COVID-19 crisis. Manatt Health and SHVS also partnered to present a webinar exploring the principal conclusions of the issue brief.
View the full issue brief here, or click here to access the webinar slides or view a recording of the presentation.