The bill is coming due for federal loans given to hospitals early in the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to their financial woes, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported May 28.
The Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment program offered hospitals short-term interest- free loans, according to the report. These loans are coming due as hospitals’ costs are rising quickly and revenue from patient stays and surgeries is growing more slowly.
The idea behind the program was that hospitals would be able to pay back the advance once the pandemic passed and operations returned to normal, according to the report. Hospitals are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, but the federal government wants to recoup the money to keep Medicare funded.
In March 2021, HHS began recovering those cash advances by paying hospitals 25 percent less for Medicare reimbursement claims, according to the report. Earlier this year, HHS began paying hospitals 50 percent less for reimbursement claims.
Hospitals lobbied for the loans to be forgiven, but were unsuccessful, according to the report.