COVID-19: Important 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 COVID-19 outbreak, please find below the latest information tailored for GI practices:

Provider Relief Fund Update: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it extended the application deadline for “Phase 2 General Distribution” funding to August 28, 2020.  Click here to learn more about these eligibility and attestation requirements when applying for this funding.

ACG has been actively working with a coalition of societies on reversing an U.S. Department of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decision that makes payments made under the Provider Relief Fund subject to income taxation. Good news. There is now legislation in both the U.S. House and Senate that would exempt Provider Relief Funds from gross income and allows related expenses to be deductible.


ACG has been actively engaging Congress on this issue. ACG President Mark B. Pochapin, MD, FACG in July urged Congressional action to clarify and correct the tax consequences stemming from payments made under the PRF and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These programs were intended to support ACG members and small businesses through the worst public health crisis in generations. If Congress does not act, taxpaying health care providers could lose up to 21% of their CARES Act funds. Providers should not have to worry about these issues when they are focused on using scarcely available financial resources to provide safe and high-quality care to their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS Highlights Colorectal Cancer Screening in Report: On Tuesday, HHS released Healthy People 2030, a 10-year plan for addressing HHS’ most critical public health priorities and challenges. Healthy People 2030 features 355 core objectives with 10-year targets. Of note, HHS aims to reduce the death rate from colorectal cancer as well as improve colorectal cancer screening rates. According to the report, 65.2% of adults aged 50 to 75 years received a colorectal cancer screening in 2018 but the target is 74.4%. Clearly, more needs to be done to improve screening rates. Congress can help by passing legislation that waives Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing for screening colonoscopies that turn therapeutic. This continues to be one of ACG’s top policy priorities.


Medicare Payment Cuts and E/M Services: Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut across most specialties in CY 2021 when changes to evaluation and management (E/M) services are implemented. ACG and the GI societies are already working with Congress and CMS on this important issue. As ACG alerted you last week, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) championed a letter to House leadership asking for a 2 year budget neutrality waiver. The final letter had 92 co-signatories. Thank you ACG members for your advocacy efforts! In July, ACG and the GI societies joined over 100 specialty societies on a letter asking Secretary of HHS Alex Azar that the agency use its authority under the public health emergency (PHE) declaration to waive budget neutrality for the changes. CMS must forgo budget-neutrality rules when implementing changes to E/M services. ACG will continue to advocate on your behalf on this critical issue heading into CY 2021.

Congress Remains Stalled on COVID-19 Relief Package: As of Friday, August 28, the U.S. House and Senate leadership both remain far apart on a COVID-19 relief package. U.S. Senate Republicans released a $1 trillion coronavirus relief package recently and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion package, the HEROES Act, in May. ACG will continue to advocate on behalf of clinical gastroenterology and our patients as Congress negotiates any COVID-19 relief legislation.

ACG Member Benefit: PPE at Discounted Prices

The College is pleased to announce a collaboration with Project N95, a nonprofit organization working to get critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers. ACG members have a special opportunity to purchase the following PPE at bulk pricing and in small quantities: N95 respirators (small sizes too), isolation gowns, and disposable face shields.

ACG is offering a one-week ordering period ending next Wednesday, August 26. This opportunity is available to ACG members in the U.S.

ACG Listening to Membership

A June 2020 ACG Practice Management Committee survey of membership showed that 25% of ACG members still have trouble accessing PPE. ACG’s survey results are consistent with a larger survey of health care workers concluding that there is a significant disparity in accessing PPE, with smaller practices having trouble finding PPE precisely at a time when COVID-19 is spreading in some of these areas. Thus, ACG sought opportunities to help GI practices and members across the country and welcomes the opportunity to partner with a coalition led by the American College of Physicians and Project N95.  The College continues to strive to meet the needs of ACG members, helping you get through these trying and uncertain times.

Click here to learn more.

ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force: Overcoming Operational Challenges of the New Normal

ACG Guidance on Reopening Your Endoscopy Center: Find the Latest Information on Your State

From Chair and Vice Chair of the ACG Board of Governors, Neil H. Stollman, MD, FACG and Patrick E. Young, MD, FACG

“Federal guidance is extensive, but local regulations and conditions dominate”

The ACG Board of Governors and the ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force are closely monitoring the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in certain areas of the country, including recent announcements to further delay elective procedures. The CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing requirements and reopening are made at the state and local level. Interested in learning more on the latest information on your state? Your state governor's website will have the latest information on COVID-19 prevalence and plans for reopening. The Council of State Governments website is tracking information on your state (updated regularly).

The ACG Guidance on Safely Reopening Your Endoscopy Center recognizes that not all areas of the country are the same, and each region/state is dealing with various levels of COVID-19 prevalence, ability to test patients/staff, as well as the ability to access personal protective equipment. The ACG Governors continue to monitor state executive orders on reopening our practices and expanding procedures across the U.S. Many ACG members have recently received communications from your ACG Governor, providing the latest information on your state. The ACG Board of Governors will continue to monitor these developments on your behalf and keep you updated.

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.

What is the Practice Management Toolbox?

The Toolbox is a series of short articles, written by practicing gastroenterologists, that provide members with easily accessible information to improve their practices. Each article covers an issue important to private practice gastroenterologists and physician-lead clinical practices. They include a brief introduction, a topic overview, specific suggestions, helpful examples and a list of resources or references. Each month a new edition of the Toolbox will be released and will then remain available here along with all previous editions. The Practice Management Committee is confident this series will a provide valuable resource for members striving to optimize their practices.