COVID-19: Important Policy Updates for GI Practices

From ACG Legislative and Public Policy Council Chair, Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG

COVID-19: Important Policy Updates for GI Practices

In an effort to keep ACG members up-to-date on important updates in the wake of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, please find below the latest information tailored for GI practices.

The Paycheck Protection Program is out of funds. On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program because the roughly $350 billion appropriated by Congress is now depleted. Congressional leaders continue to talk but progress on an interim relief bill remains unclear. While there is agreement that another $250 billion is needed, there is currently no consensus on other details such as additional dollars for health care providers, state and local public health agencies, and an increase in low-income food assistance.

ACG Leadership: More financial assistance for GI practices are necessary.

On Friday, ACG President Mark B. Pochapin, MD, FACG called upon the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately release more CARES Act grant funds to GI practices in light of the Paycheck Protection Program’s temporary insolvency. Time is of the essence. It is also important for Congress to hear from ACG members as this latest emergency package is underway. That is why the ACG Board of Governors and Young Physician Leadership Scholars recently advocated Congress on your behalf.

Other updates for ACG members:

The CARES Act Provider Relief Fund webpage has been updated to include the Attestation Portal. As a reminder, providers receiving payment from the initial $30 billion distribution mist sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agree to the Terms and Conditions within 30 days of payment. The Congressional Budget Office also completed a preliminary estimate of the budgetary effects of the CARES Act and estimates the Act will increase federal deficits by about $1.8 trillion over the 2020-2030 period.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced new recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your facility.

The CDC also updated its infection prevention and control guidance for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in health care settings.

The CDC also released new guidance on Decontamination and Reuse of Filtering Facepiece Respirators.

President Trump recently invoked the Defense Production Act for the 3rd time, ordering a ban on exports by 3M Co. of scarce supplies, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, and gloves.

On Thursday, President Trump released new guidelines for reopening parts of the country, recommending states and localities confirm a two-week downward trend in COVID-19 symptoms and documented cases before starting to ease lockdowns. Hospitals would also have to confirm adequate capacity and robust testing measures. The Trump Administration envisions states or localities meeting those criteria each time they progress through three phases. Of note to ACG members, Phase One has guidance on elective surgeries:

ELECTIVE SURGERIES can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted a program appropriating $200 million in COVID-19 telehealth grants (the COVID-19 Telehealth Program) and $100 million in grants through the Connected Care Pilot Program to assist hospitals, and other health care providers cover telehealth costs.

Please note: The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers. Please learn more here.

The funds for both were authorized by the CARES Act. The FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Portal opened on April 13. Click here for more information and the application.

ACG will continue to update members on important policy and practice news each week.

New ACG Webinar: COVID-19 & Updates on the Latest Developments and Tips for Your Practice

On April 13, ACG President Mark B. Pochapin, MD, FACG and ACG President-Elect David A. Greenwald MD, FACG hosted a group of subject-matter experts to discuss the latest policy developments related to small businesses and GI practices and learn about what ACG members are doing to maintain solvency and make plans to re-open in the future.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Login to the ACG Universe using your single sign on account. If you do not have and ACG account- you can create one using the orange button. A free hour of CME and one ABIM MOC points are available for ACG members and non-members.

Remember to Contact Your ACG Governor

Remember to contact your ACG Governor on important state and local issues impacting you and your practice.

The ACG Board of Governors is one of the most unique aspects of the American College of Gastroenterology. Governors are ACG Fellows that are elected from the membership of a particular state or region. There are currently 77 Governors across seven different regions in the U.S. and abroad. The Board of Governors acts as a two-way conduit between College leadership and the membership at-large. This helps the College make certain it is meeting the evolving needs of the membership.