April 8, 2020

Map: America’s 350,000+ coronavirus cases

Daily Briefing

    As the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths rose to nearly 13,000 as of Wednesday, CMS is disbursing billions of dollars in advanced payments and grants to providers battling Covid-19.

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    US Covid-19 death toll nears 13K, with four states seeing highest one-day increases

    As of Wednesday morning, U.S. officials had reported 397,754 cases of Covid-19 in the country—up from 366,238 cases as of Tuesday morning.

    Officials as of Wednesday morning also had reported 12,956 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 10,959 deaths reported as of Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, four states—Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York—reported the largest one-day increases in Covid-19 deaths that the states had seen thus far.

    Despite the spikes in the number of reported U.S. deaths related to Covid-19, Trump administration officials over the past few days have said they expect the total number of U.S. deaths from the new coronavirus will be lower than they previously projected, because social distancing measures in place throughout the country appear to be curbing the virus' spread.

    Last week, the Trump administration projected the new coronavirus could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans even with social distancing measures that are currently in place, largely because officials assumed about 50% of Americans would follow social distancing guidelines, CDC Director Robert Redfield said Monday during an interview with AM 1030 KVOI Radio.

    As of Wednesday morning, revised predictions from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's (IHME's) Covid-19 forecasting model, which the administration has been using as a basis for its projections, indicated the United States would see 60,400 Covid-19 deaths by August and reach a peak by April 12.

    However, state public health officials have said their own projections, which are based on different models, do not align with IHME's predictions. In the District of Columbia, for example, public health officials have said their model predicts the Covid-19 epidemic in the nation's capital won't peak until much later—by June 28—whereas the IHME model predicts the District's epidemic will peak on April 16.

    CMS advances payments to providers affected by Covid-19

    Meanwhile, CMS on Tuesday announced it has issued nearly $34 billion in accelerated and advance payments to providers fighting the United States' Covid-19 epidemic on the frontlines.

    CMS last week approved more than 17,000 of the more than 25,000 requests the agency received for accelerated and advance payments from providers and suppliers.

    CMS issued the payments through the agency's expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, which sped up the processing time for accelerated and advance payment requests from three to four weeks to four to six days.

    Verma said, "Health care providers are making massive financial sacrifices to care for the influx of coronavirus patients. Many are rightly complying with federal recommendations to delay non-essential elective surgeries to preserve capacity and personal protective equipment. They shouldn't be penalized for doing the right thing. Amid a public health storm of unprecedented fury, these payments are helping providers and suppliers—so critical to defeating this terrible virus—stay afloat."

    Verma says CMS will start distributing $30B in stimulus grants 'this week'

    In addition, Verma on Tuesday said CMS this week will begin to distribute $30 billion in grants from an emergency relief fund for providers that was created under in an emergency stimulus bill that federal policymakers enacted late last month.

    Verma said the agency is basing the first round of funding on providers' Medicare revenue. CMS will issue the funding to some providers via direct deposit, but Verma noted that some providers might have to first register with CMS to receive the payments. Still, Verma assured providers they will be able to access the funding. "This is not based on a first-come, first-served basis. Because we are basing this on the Medicare revenue, they will get these dollars," she said.

    Verma said the agency soon will make a second round of funding available that will give priority to children's hospitals, pediatricians, nursing homes, and other providers that get most of their funding from sources other than Medicare revenue (Wan/Johnson, Washington Post, 4/8; Coleman, The Hill, 4/7; Fernandez, Axios, 4/7; Hellmann, The Hill, 4/7; Coleman, The Hill, 4/7; Bowden, The Hill, 4/7; Seaman, Denver Post, 4/7; King, FierceHealthcare, 4/7; CMS release, 4/7; Commins, HealthLeaders Media, 4/7; Cohrs, Modern Healthcare, 4/7; New York Times, 4/8).

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