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What We’re Reading: CMS Closes Advance Payments Program; Medical Debt Forgiveness; Uninsured Rate Drops

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Over $3 billion in payments were issued to health care providers and suppliers; a recent poll highlights growing demand to alleviate medical debt; preliminary data show a decrease in uninsured individuals since 2019.

CMS to Close Advance Payments Program for Providers Affected by UnitedHealth Hack

CMS announced it will end the advance payments program—which was launched to support Medicare providers and suppliers affected by a February cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealth—on July 12, according to Reuters. The program, initiated after the hack disrupted medical insurance payments across the United States, has provided over $3.26 billion in accelerated and advance payments to more than 8900 providers and suppliers. While CMS has already recovered 96% of these payments, it will continue to monitor the ongoing impact of the cyberattack, which potentially compromised data for a third of Americans.

Americans Increasingly Support Medical Debt Forgiveness Amid Rising Financial Strain

As medical debt continues to cripple many American households, a new poll by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research revealed that approximately half of Americans believe the US government should prioritize medical debt relief, according to The Associated Press. The poll showed widespread support for medical debt forgiveness, especially for individuals facing financial hardship or experiencing health care fraud. Although Democrats were found more likely to favor medical debt relief, medical debt forgiveness was found to be broadly popular among the nation, reflecting on the need for systemic changes to address the financial burdens of health care.

Uninsured Rate Drops Significantly Amid Government Efforts During COVID-19 Pandemic

A new report from the US National Center for Health Statistics released preliminary data, which found from 2019 to 2023, the number of Americans without health insurance decreased from 33.2 million to 25 million due to government efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bloomberg. Despite these gains, disparities persist, with Hispanic adults having the highest uninsured rate among racial groups. Additionally, the future of health coverage remains uncertain as states resume Medicaid eligibility reviews, potentially reversing some of these positive trends.

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