Sinema urges government to delay or waive interest rate on critical loan program, helping health providers focus on fighting coronavirus
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined a bipartisan group of Senators urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay or waive the onerous 10.25% interest rate on the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, which has been expanded to provide Arizona health providers immediate relief during the coronavirus outbreak. Health providers in Arizona will need more time than currently allowed to pay back their loans and the over 10% interest rate could prohibit them from using this critical loan program.
“I’ve heard directly from health providers across Arizona, especially our rural and safety net providers, that the Medicare loan program’s fees are barriers to securing critical relief as they fight the coronavirus outbreak. I’m urging the federal government to help Arizona providers and delay or waive the interest rate now,” said Sinema.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Accelerated and Advance Payment Program was expanded in the CARES Act law to allow any health provider who already receives Medicare payments to apply for an advance on future payments to help them meet immediate economic needs. The program serves as a loan that CMS will provides based on previous Medicare reimbursements, and health providers repay the loan by taking a small offset in future Medicare claims. However, the law currently says any health care provider who cannot fully pay back the advanced amounts after one year will be charged 10.25% interest. Rural providers find the terms especially onerous given their financial difficulties even before coronavirus-related costs. For many of Arizona’s community or rural facilities, the recovery will take longer than one year and a more than 10 percent interest rate would make them hesitate to take advantage of this short-term liquidity program.
Sinema recently hosted a called with rural Arizona health care providers to discuss available coronavirus relief and thank them for their service during this public health crisis.
Sinema also recently urged immediate implementation of the CARES Act law to ensure that rural providers and hospitals receive the relief they need to keep their doors open and continue serving rural and underserved communities in Arizona.
To read Sinema’s letter click HERE.
Sinema has a resources page on her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for updated information in English and Spanish on the coronavirus.