WASHINGTON D.C. - A number of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish medical service providers could face financial strain by this Saturday, unless Louisiana's congressional delegation - particularly Sen. Dr. Bill Cassidy, step in and work to solve the problem.

The issue surrounds Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs, or MAAPP—a program that has been around for years.

Recently Congress expanded the program under the CARES ACT (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security).

MAAP gives hospitals and some providers advance Medicare payments for three to six months, to help provide them financial assistance in these trying times - kind of like a cash advance.

However now, the program's loan repayment terms are about to kick in on Saturday, Aug 1, and that could present big strains for hospitals like Oschner and Terrebonne General, and providers like Thibodaux Endoscopy, Nexion Health at Thibodaux, Acadian Ambulance, and many more, who were recipients of the Coronavirus Relief through the CARES ACT.

Chip Kahn, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, said there are many issues that Louisiana Senators Cassidy and John Kennedy need to address, including the repayment start date, the Medicare fee-for-service payments, and the high interest rates.

With an initial repayment start date of 120 days after receiving funds, Khan said most grantees must begin repaying their loans on August 1.

"This is simply not enough time, particularly with the COVID-19 strains service providers are going through," he said.

However, once repayment begins, grantees will be denied 100% of Medicare fee-for-service payments until their loans have been paid off in full. That alone will cut roughly one-quarter of hospitals’ payments, undermining their ability to treat patients, Kahn said.

"And, if health care providers are unable to pay off their loan in the given timeframe, one year for acute hospitals and seven months for physicians and other providers, then that loan begins accruing interest at a staggering near 10 percent."

Cassidy and Kennedy need to make it an urgent priority to fix these outdated MAAPP loan repayment terms by extending the start of loan repayments to at least 12 months; reducing the amount of repayment taken from Medicare claims from 100% to 25%, and waiving the interest rate or at the very least reducing it to 1%. 

Kahn is asking the public to call Cassidy and Kennedy, to voice their opinion.

Congressman Dr. Bill Cassidy's office can be reached at 202-224-5824 in Washington, 225-929-7711in Baton Rouge, or 504-838-0130 in Metairie.

Kennedy's office can be reached at 202-224-4623 in Washington, 225-926-8033 in Baton Rouge, and 504-581-6190 in New Orleans.

Kahn reiterated that with all the good the MAAPP loans have done, "the repayment terms are undermining efforts to still fight the COVID-19 pandemic as many agencies experience the effects of a second surge in cases."

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