Radiologists get reprieve after Senate, Trump finalize bill to extend Medicare loan repayment terms

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation that will extend repayment terms of Medicare advances granted to physicians during the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump signed the measure late Wednesday, just after a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Following the 84-10 Senate vote and Trump’s signature, the bill will extend funding for the feds through Dec. 11, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. House previously passed the measure on Sept. 22, drawing praise from the American Medical Association.

Radiologists and other providers will now have one year after the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program loan was originally issued before recoupment begins, Modern Healthcare reported. CMS first launched the lifeline back in March to help smooth over cash flow concerns for providers hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the original due date was set to arrive in August for those receiving loans first. AMA recently called those previous terms an “economic sword hanging over physician practices.”

Provider groups expressed relief Wednesday following the bill’s final approval.

“Critically important that Senate passed [the continuing resolution] bill,” tweeted Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, adding that the new repayment terms will “greatly support frontline hospitals and providers facing COVID in [the] coming months."