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April 27, 2020

Around the nation: Medicare hospital trust fund reserves could run out before 2026

Daily Briefing

    Senior officials said increased spending related to the new coronavirus epidemic could cause Medicare Part A trust fund reserves to run out before 2026, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Maryland, Ohio, and Washington.

    • Maryland: Officials project that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which pays for Part A inpatient care, will run out in 2026, but changes related to the new coronavirus epidemic could accelerate that timeline, according to a new report from the fund's Board of Trustees. A senior official on Wednesday said the projection does not take the epidemic into account, but officials said epidemic will "no question" have a negative impact on the Medicare and Social Security reserve funds. The official said that, with increased spending, the reserve could run out by 2023 (Bannow/Brady, Modern Healthcare, 4/22; Childers/Pugh, Bloomberg, 4/22).

    • Ohio: Beaumont Health and Summa Health are delaying their plans to merge due to the new coronavirus epidemic, Beaumont CEO John Fox announced Tuesday. The news comes after Summa Health in January agreed to become a subsidiary of Beaumont. Fox said he did not know how long the merger would be delayed, but said the systems will not merge until they "have a little more clarity about the impact of the crisis" (Livengood, Modern Healthcare, 4/21).

    • Washington: CMS on Tuesday approved the first Medicaid Section 1115 emergency waiver in the nation for Washington state. The waiver, which expires when the public health emergency tied to the new coronavirus ends, will allow the state to direct Medicaid services to areas and populations that are hardest hit by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. CMS in a letter approving the waiver noted that the waiver also will allow Washington to "triage access to long-term services and supports based on highest need" (Brady, Modern Healthcare, 4/22).

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