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Meredith Maxwell can be reached at or 504.582.8484.

Recent congressional action has included significant additional funding for healthcare providers. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), the massive stimulus legislation passed on March 27, appropriated $100 billion to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (the Relief Fund) to be distributed to hospitals and healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. This was followed on April 24 by an additional $75 billion appropriated for healthcare providers under the Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Care Enhancement Act. In addition, the CARES Act expanded the existing Medicare accelerated and advance payment programs (AAP Programs) to allow qualified hospitals and other providers to obtain, as a lump sum or in periodic payments, up to six months of advance Medicare payments (based on prior-period experience) as a loan to stabilize cash flow.

So, what has actually happened with this new funding in the ensuing weeks? The following sections summarize what we know so far.Continue Reading CARES Act Funds for Hospitals and Other Providers: Where We Are Now?

On April 21, 2020, the Senate passed in a pro forma session an “interim” coronavirus relief bill, titled the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” (the Senate Bill). The Senate Bill would amend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), enacted March 27, 2020, to (i) increase the amounts authorized for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in accordance with Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, the economic injury disaster loans, and emergency grants under the CARES Act, and (ii) authorize additional funding for hospital and provider recovery and coronavirus testing. Notwithstanding complaints that have been lodged by various constituencies about the structure, administration, and fairness of the PPP that was implemented by the CARES Act, the new legislation would not modify the PPP’s lending program, choosing instead to appropriate additional funding so that more small businesses are covered. The following is a summary of the key provisions of the Senate Bill.
Continue Reading Senate Passes Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

As part of its efforts to give healthcare providers greater flexibility to respond to the rapidly growing public health emergency, on March 30, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an initiative called “hospitals without walls,” which is an unprecedented array of temporary waivers to allow hospitals to expand treatment capacity outside their hospital walls in response to the patient surge resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The CMS waivers are effective retroactively to March 1, 2020, and continue for the duration of the COVID-19 national health emergency. The hospitals without walls initiative provides new opportunities for ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) to play an important role in combating this crisis, especially significant when the elective surgeries that are a mainstay of many ASCs’ business are largely halted under state and local shutdown orders.Continue Reading CMS Expands Ambulatory Surgery Centers’ Role in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 27, 2020, Congress responded to the COVID-19 emergency by adopting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), the most massive economic recovery legislation in United States history. A key focus of the CARES Act is the adoption of a variety of measures designed to expedite the approval and availability of drugs and devices needed to fight the pandemic, to shore up the financial positions of hospitals and other healthcare providers facing unprecedented demands, and to temporarily relax restrictions that may make it more difficult for patients to obtain access to needed testing and care. These measures include provisions that enhance access to telehealth services; provide expanded coverage for COVID-19-related services from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance and managed care organizations; expedite review and approval of new potential treatments; defer certain scheduled Medicare cuts and provide add-on payments to hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients; and expand the authority of non-physician practitioners in some circumstances.

Many of these new measures are specifically limited to the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, a number of them also reflect reforms that providers, drug and device manufacturers, and other industry participants have sought for some time, and it will be interesting to see whether experience with those reforms during the crisis leads to permanent changes in the healthcare system.

The following is a summary of the major healthcare provisions of the CARES Act.Continue Reading CARES Act Healthcare Provisions: New and Expanded Tools for the Pandemic Crisis