June 05, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his cosponsorship of the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Improvement Act – legislation that would adjust a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) loan program in order to help healthcare providers manage the financial pressures created by the coronavirus pandemic. If passed, the legislation would lower participants’ interest rate from 10.25% to 1%, extend the period of time providers have to repay the loans, and provide loan forgiveness in cases of extreme hardship. The bill was introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and is cosponsored by an additional 13 Senators.
“The coronavirus pandemic has strained our hospital and healthcare providers, in both rural and urban areas of our nation,” said Senator King. “With non-essential procedures on hold and operating costs high, some providers are facing difficulty making ends meet. We need to ensure that hospitals can stay open and operating not only during these challenging times, but after the pandemic is over – because coronavirus is far from the only medical challenge facing Maine people. In order to support our communities now and in the future, we need to work together to ensure healthcare providers have access to the resources they care for our citizens.”
Currently, hospitals and physicians are required to start paying down loans as soon as four months after the first loan is received, and CMS is authorized to withhold up to 100% of Medicare payments to pay back the debt. As well, the 10.25% interest rate starts accumulating on the loans after only one year. The bill would delay recoupment of the loans and lower the recoupment rate from 100% of Medicare payments to 25%. The legislation would also limit the interest rate to 1% after two years.
Senator King has pushed to make sure America’s medical professionals and healthcare infrastructure have the tools they need to treat coronavirus patients and protect themselves. He has cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would extend a lifeline to rural hospitals and providers and the 60 million Americans who depend on them for health care by providing immediate financial relief, stabilize hospitals, and encourage hospital coordination. Senator King joined the Maine delegation to take action to protect access to healthcare and preserve important economic drivers in rural Maine. He has also urged the FCC to expand access to telehealth services in rural communities, and joined the Maine delegation to urge Secretary Azar to quickly distribute personal protective equipment to Maine.