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.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that revises the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The House of Representatives passed the bill on Thursday, May 28th. The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act makes changes to the PPP by extending the period for using loans to 24 weeks (rather than 8 weeks). It also would let borrowers spend just 60% (rather than 75%) of their loan proceeds on paying workers and still be eligible for loan forgiveness. The bill eliminates the 2-year loan repayment restrictions for future borrowers, allows payroll tax deferment for PPP recipients, and extends the June 30th rehiring deadline. In addition to the changes to the PPP loan rules, the PPP Flexibility Act also amends section 2302(a) of the CARES Act (related to the deferral of certain employer payroll taxes). Specifically, the PPP Flexibility Act removes the prohibition on payroll tax deferral for entities receiving PPP loan forgiveness. President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday, June 5th.

Need Help? Click here for ACG’s guidance on the PPP.

From the FDA this week:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a new video resource explaining the different categories of tests in the fight against COVID-19: diagnostic tests and antibody tests.
  • The FDA announced a new webinar series on the topic of Respirators for Health Care Personnel Use during COVID-19 Pandemic. The webinar will provide FDA information and answer questions about emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for respirators, importing respirators, and overall FDA actions to help ensure that health care personnel on the front lines have the necessary supplies of respirators to meet the demand.
  • The FDA publicly posted test performance data from four more antibody, or serology, test kits on from its independent performance validation study effort with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI).

From the CDC this week:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated a fact sheet with information on when and what PPE is necessary, how to don (put on) and doff (take off) PPE, limitations of PPE, and proper care, maintenance, and disposal of PPE.
  • The CDC also recently updated the guidance to assist with assessment of risk, monitoring, and work restriction decisions for healthcare providers with potential exposure to COVID-19.

ACG Working with Congress on Important Legislation: We Need Your Advocacy Voice

ACG has been actively working with Congress to include important bills impacting our members in any forthcoming COVID-19 relief packages. Please urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support these important bills:

S.3599, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, enhances the nation's medical workforce during the COVID-19 crisis by "recapturing" unused immigrant visas and increasing the number of employment-based visas.

H.R 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, provides targeted liability protections to health care providers, as public health recommendations have been constantly changing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

H.R. 6720, the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Healthcare Workers Act, provides student loan forgiveness to health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This important bill recognizes certain ACG members’ sacrifices during this crucial time in our country’s history.

H.R. 6365, the Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act provides for a one-time grant as well as low-interest loans for providers and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in rural areas.

ACG Guidance on Safely 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 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.

Interested in learning more on the latest information on your state? The CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are made by state and local health departments or healthcare providers. The Council of State Governments website is tracking information on your state (updated regularly). The Washington Post also has a state reopening tracker.

Watch the Webinar: COVID-19: Resuming Endoscopy: Unanswered Questions and Ongoing Controversies

Register for Two Upcoming COVID-19 Webinars