Following an announcement earlier this month to support Arizona small businesses with $5 million in SBA backed loans, $10 million in accelerated payments to Arizona healthcare providers, and a prepayment program to assist Arizona primary care providers (PCPs), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is now launching a loan program for healthcare providers, including qualifying hospitals and physicians across Arizona who have been impacted by COVID-19. The Claim Payment Advance program will allow certain providers to receive a three-month loan to help ease the strain on cash flow so they can continue to provide medical care to Arizonans.
“The health of Arizonans is at stake, and these funds will help provide stability to our healthcare ecosystem,” said Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “Some hospital and physicians have an urgent need for support so they can continue to provide critical care to Arizonans during the pandemic and beyond.”
The March 19 Executive Order that postponed elective surgeries has resulted in lower patient volumes over the last several months for many Arizona medical providers. As soon as providers raised concerns, BCBSAZ increased the speed of claims processing, resulting in $10 million of accelerated payments going to Arizona physicians and hospitals.
As BCBSAZ analyzed claims payments in 2020 and compared them to the same period last year, claims costs in aggregate were actually running higher until just last week, when the first year-over-year reduction was experienced. Even though elective surgeries were down, the reduction in claims costs wasn’t immediately evident due to increased costs in other areas, including:
• 33% increase in behavioral health visits
• 3,200% spike in telemedicine visits
• 22% increase in prescription costs
• Enhanced benefit payments at 100% for telehealth and COVID-19 claims
Physician specialists are the hardest hit, with revenue declines down nearly 6%. To help stabilize the Arizona healthcare system, up to $10 million in loans will be made available to Arizona medical physicians and hospitals. Among the qualifications for the Claim Payment Advance program, providers must be in the BCBSAZ network, have experienced at least a 33% reduction in claims for fully insured plans, and be in good standing with professional licensing boards, and with BCBSAZ. Full details on the Claim Payment Advance program and application process can be found at azblue.com/coronavirus-providers.
For more information about how BCBSAZ is supporting healthcare providers, members, and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit azblue.com/coronavirus.