HHS Is Providing an Additional $20 Billion to the Provider Relief Fund, CMS Relaxes Repayment Terms Under the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, and New Jersey Poised to Allow Telemedicine for Medical Cannabis

For more information about this blog post, please contact Khaled J. KleleRyan M. MageeLabinot Alexander BerlajolliBrianna J. Santolli, or Daniel J. Parziale.

New Jersey Is Poised to Allow the Use of Telemedicine for Medical Cannabis

New Jersey is poised to approve S619, which would permit providers to authorize patients for medical cannabis through telemedicine and telehealth. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is before the Senate for a second reading. Under the bill, for the first 270 days following enactment, a health care practitioner may authorize the medical use of cannabis via telemedicine and telehealth for a patient who is a resident of a long-term care facility, has a developmental disability, is terminally ill, is receiving hospice care from a licensed hospice care provider, or is housebound as certified by the patient’s physician. After that first 270-day period, a health care practitioner may then authorize the medical use of cannabis via telemedicine and telehealth to any qualified patient, provided the patient has had at least one previous in-office consultation with the health care practitioner prior to the patient’s authorization for medical use of cannabis. Following an initial authorization, a patient must have an annual in‑office consultation with the practitioner to receive continued authorization for the medical use of cannabis.

HHS Announces Additional $20B in New Phase 3 COVID‑19 Provider Relief Funding

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”), has announced an additional $20 billion in funding for providers to help offset the financial strain resulting from the COVID‑19 pandemic. Providers who already received a Provider Relief Fund payment and previously ineligible providers may apply for the additional funding. Payments will first be distributed to providers who have not yet received payments under the Fund that amounts to 2 percent of annual patient care revenue. The HRSA will then calculate an equitable add-on payment from the remaining balance of the $20 billion budget that considers the following: (1) a provider’s change in operating revenues from patient care; (2) a provider’s change in operating expenses from patient care, including expenses incurred related to coronavirus; and (3) payments already received through prior Provider Relief Fund distributions. The application period is from October 5 through November 6, 2020. For more information on eligibility and the application process, please visit the Provider Relief Fund webpage.

CMS Issues New Guidance on Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program Loan Repayment

As previously noted in our October 9, 2020 blog post, on September 30, 2020, as part of a larger government short-term spending bill, President Trump signed into law a program which relaxes the repayment terms for Medicare loans that hospitals received earlier this year through the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program (the “Program”). The law directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to wait up to one year after the loan was issued to begin withholding Medicare payments to recoup funds. On October 8, 2020 CMS issued new guidance related to the new law and the Program, which provides, in relevant part, that: i) CMS will now begin recouping payments for loans made under the Program one year from the issuance date of each provider or supplier's accelerated or advance payment; ii) hospitals will have up to 29 months, increased from 12 months, to repay the loan; iii) the interest on loans made under the Program will be reduced to 4% from 10%; iv) the repayment rate is lowered, beginning at 25% for the first 11 months and then raising to 50% for the next six months; and v) CMS will allow providers who continue to experience financial hardships to require an extended repayment schedule.