The Senate is Back in Session. The Senate is back in Washington, DC, this week following an extended recess due to COVID-19. After initially saying that the House of Representatives would also return this week, Democratic leadership reversed course, citing warnings from public health experts and substantial pushback from members of their own caucus. Despite concerns from some lawmakers, the Senate is planning on conducting “normal” business, as evidenced by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing scheduled for Thursday. This promises to be a fascinating test case for the rest of the country. The Senate is not a restaurant in Georgia, a barbershop in Tennessee or a movie theater in Texas. 100 members of Congress will be back at work, along with a handful of staff each. The country will be watching for evidence that going back to work is safe.
Is This the Week We See More Money? The CARES Act appropriated $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund. Two weeks ago, Congress added another $75 billion. So far, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the distribution of $50 billion to Medicare fee-for-service providers, $12 billion to hot spots, $10 billion to rural hospitals, $400 million to Indian Health Service Facilities, and an unspecified amount to reimburse providers for COVID-19 testing and treatment of uninsured patients. $102.6 billion (less an unspecified amount for the uninsured) has yet to be allocated. Is this the week we start to see that money flow? Last Friday, HHS reached out to states asking them to provide provider-level 2018 and 2019 Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care revenue data, as well provider payment information for all Medicaid participating providers. This could be a hint that a distribution targeted to Medicaid providers is coming. How much, when, and how are the questions at the top of our minds this week.
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