Hospitals to be reimbursed for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients

Monday, April 13, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will reimburse hospitals at Medicare rates for treating uninsured novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, Alex Azar, secretary of HHS, announced on April 3. The funding will be part of the $100 billion allocated to healthcare providers as part of the CARES Act.

Hospitals will be reimbursed through the same mechanism that is currently is used to reimburse organizations for testing and diagnosing uninsured patients. Hospitals that receive these payments will not be allowed to balance bill uninsured patients, Azar said.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) voiced its approval of the administration’s announcement in an April 6 statement. The AHA stated that it encourages HHS to release the funds as soon as possible and urged the administration to continue to explore additional methods to address the cost of COVID-19 treatment, particularly for uninsured patients. The number of uninsured patients will rise due to the economic downturn created by COVID-19, according a to Health Management Associates report released April 3.

Organizations should monitor communications from HHS for more information on reimbursement for uninsured patients and be prepared to adjust internal policies for balance billing uninsured patients. Organizations should also ensure that all eligible patients are enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Revenue Cycle Advisor.

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Billing and Claims, News, Revenue Integrity