The United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out federal funding to help qualifying businesses within the health care marketplace. These funds were part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. In an effort to better ensure medical care providers received the funds promptly, the agency decided to proactively deposit $30 billion to providers who had recently filed claims with Medicare.
Why would companies return the funds?
Companies including CVS Health, Encompass and Walmart have chosen to return the funds and defer future involvement in the program. According to a release by a representative for CVS Health, the move was intended to help better ensure the federal agency can use the funds to help other providers who face financial challenges as a result of the pandemic.
These larger companies may have returned the funds to avoid negative publicity. As noted by a representative for Walmart, the funds were intended to help those on the frontlines fighting the virus. In addition to these larger companies, doctor’s offices and clinics have also received funds. An estimated 500,000 providers received funds during the initial influx of funds.
Another potential reason for the return: although President Donald Trump initially stated the funding came with “no strings attached,” a later publication noted providers may need to return the funds if they did not really need it. The government publication states providers will need to show they used the funds to cover increased expenses or lost revenue.
The total amount returned to the agency thus far totals almost $574 million.