HHS Extends COVID-19 PHE and CMS Updates Medicare Reimbursement Rates

From ACG Legislative and Public Policy Council Chair, James C. Hobley, MD, MSc, FACG

Updates from HHS and CMS: Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar recently extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration effective Jan. 21, 2021 for an additional 90 days. The PHE will remain in effect at least until April 21, 2021. Of note to ACG members, this means that Medicare telephone/telehealth waivers and flexibilities will also remain in effect until at least April 21, 2021.

CMS also recently updated the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS), revised thanks in part to your advocacy in December. When Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020, this legislation prevented Medicare reimbursement cuts to GI procedures (-10%) and an overall estimated cut to GI of -4%. CMS now estimates the overall impact for GI services in CY 2021 will be +2%. Thank you ACG members!

CMS is now providing a 3.75% increase in payments for CY 2021 (offset by other policies), suspending the 2% sequestration cut through March 31, 2021, reinstating the 1.0 floor on the work Geographic Practice Cost Index through CY 2023, delaying implementation of the inherent complexity add-on code for evaluation and management services (G2211) until CY 2021, and recalculating the Medicare physician fee schedule 2021 conversion factor to 34.8931 (up from 32.41). Stay tuned for further information on CY 2021 GI reimbursement rates. Thank you again ACG members for your advocacy efforts.

ACG Board of Governors Urging States to Improve Vaccination Roll-Out Process

From Vice Chair and Chair of the ACG Board of Governors, Dayna S. Early, MD, FACG and Patrick E. Young, MD, FACG

This week, the ACG Board of Governors sent letters to U.S. Governors across the country, urging states to explore all resources available to ensure that front-line healthcare providers have access to COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically, independent healthcare practices and freestanding ambulatory surgical centers. We also urged states to consider patients with multiple comorbidities and complex gastrointestinal diseases as a “high-risk” population for COVID-19, and therefore, a high priority for COVID-19 vaccinations in the general population. Click here to read one example of these letters.

These letters were sent in response to ACG membership feedback on the inefficient roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, and the lack of access for independent GI practices and staff. We will keep you updated on any developments as the vaccine roll-out continues.

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.

ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force Survey: Please Participate Today!

We are seeking your help in updating the College on the status of your GI practice and resumption of endoscopy services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take a few minutes and complete this important survey. This is a follow-up survey from surveys in April and June 2020 that many of you completed. Findings will help guide ACG’s recommendations moving forward.


An April 2020 ACG Practice Management Committee survey revealed important changes to GI practice operations, severe reductions in revenue across all gastroenterology practice models, and a significant impact on patient access to endoscopy. The key findings from this April 2020 survey were discussed in a ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force webinar in April, as well as in the May 2020 Task Force’s guidance document on resuming endoscopy services. The Practice Management Committee conducted a follow-up survey in June 2020. The April vs. June 2020 survey results were presented during the July 2020 ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force Webinar.

We Need Your Help: Updating ACG on the Status of Your Practice

Please take a few minutes and complete this survey as soon as possible. Please also encourage your ACG colleagues to participate in the survey as well. Your participation is critical for the ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force’s continued efforts to provide practical recommendations moving forward.

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.