COVID-19: Important Policy Updates for GI Practices

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

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.

Congress Authorizes Additional Funds for the PPP and Provider Grants

This week, Congress approved $484 billion in additional funding to replenish and supplement key programs under the CARES Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), small business disaster loans and grants, hospitals and health care providers, and testing. As ACG updated members last week, the authorized funds under the PPP were depleted after only two weeks of operation.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Appropriates an additional $310 billion in funding and an additional $10 billion for Emergency EIDL Grants (totaling $321 when rounding). Please note: some reports have been inaccurate in saying there is $321 billion for the PPP as well as an additional $10 billion for EIDL grants.

  • Use ACG’s guidance on applying for your PPP loan! Click here. Do not wait. The program’s funds were depleted in only 2 weeks last time.
  • Who are the PPP lenders in your state? Click here to learn more.

HHS Hospital and Provider Grants under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund: Provides an additional $75 billion to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue due to coronavirus. The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) was established through the CARES Act, authorizing $100 billion.

Testing: Provides $25 billion for the HHS Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.

HHS Provides Further Guidance on Provider Grants

On Wednesday, HHS provided updated guidance on allocating the PRF grants. HHS announced 4 new allocations including $20 billion in addition to general funding, $10 billion for hospitals in COVID-19 high-impact areas, $10 billion for rural hospitals, and $400 million for Indian Health Service facilities.  ACG alerted membership on the initial disbursement of the first $30 billion out of this $100 billion.

Are ACG members eligible to receive these funds? HHS noted that the $20 billion in funding is for all providers but initial payments will be based on the 2018 cost reporting data. Physician practices and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) do not submit cost reports. Please note: In order to receive this second allocation of grant funds, GI practices will have to submit 2018 revenues, as well as loss of revenues due to COVID-19. Click here for the submission portal.

CMS Updates Policy on Non-Emergent Procedures

Last week, ACG updated members on the Trump Administration’s guidance on reopening the economy after states and localities can met certain criteria. CMS subsequently released guidance on allowing facilities to provide care for patients needing non-emergent procedures. Of note, “as states and localities begin to stabilize, it is important to restart care that is currently being postponed, such as certain procedural care (surgeries and procedures), chronic disease care, and, ultimately, preventive care. Patients continue to have ongoing healthcare needs that are currently being deferred. Therefore, if states or regions have passed the Gating Criteria (symptoms, cases, and hospitals) announced on April 16, 2020, then they may proceed to Phase I.”

As stipulated by CMS and the White House, states and localities must first pass certain “Gating Criteria” (reduction in symptoms, cases, and increased testing) prior to proceeding to Phase I, which includes elective surgeries/procedures as clinically appropriate. Please also note that state governors who have declared a moratorium on non-emergent procedures must also first relax/rescind these orders.

ACG will continue to update you on important policy changes.

Register for the Next ACG COVID-19 Webinar: Roadmap to Safely Resuming Endoscopy

New ACG Magazine Article/Podcast on Improving Your Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is an essential skill for every gastroenterologist in business and in life. Physicians are often required to negotiate with hospitals, third-party vendors, and insurance companies over critical issues. Sometimes, they might even find themselves negotiating with their patients over care. This new ACG Magazine article on negotiation will offer new ways on how you can improve your negotiation skills.