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

This week: the U.S. House of Representatives released and passed a $3 trillion COVID-19 rescue package, the HEROES Act, providing funding to state and local governments, assistance for rent and mortgage relief, and an extension of unemployment benefits. The House passed the bill despite the U.S. Senate and Trump Administration already announcing that the bill will not be addressed or supported.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance documents on reopening businesses, schools, restaurants, and other places. The new CDC guidelines provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. Click here to read the guidance for businesses. According to Politico, the White House previously rejected CDC’s original guidance on reopening and sought revisions.

House of Representatives Introduces Timely New Bill on Student Loan Forgiveness

A new important and timely bill was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act (H.R. 6720) would provide physicians, residents, and medical students with student debt relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell your Representative to support this bill!

New ACG Guidance on Safely Reopening Your Endoscopy Center

In late April, ACG convened the Endoscopic Resumption Task Force, co-chaired by Dr. Neil Stollman and Dr. Costas Kefalas. On April 27th, this group presented a webinar attended by thousands of your colleagues, “COVID-19: A Roadmap to Safely Resuming Endoscopy.”

Growing out of that invaluable session is this document, "Guidance on Safely Reopening Your Endoscopy Center," in which the Task Force provides a practical overview of reopening or ramping up endoscopy and how to succeed safely. Even at a time when so much remains uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic—and data to support decisions may be limited—the Task Force offers expert consensus opinion based upon the available data.

HHS Provider Relief Funds Program: My Experience

From ACG Board of Trustee Member, Caroll D. Koscheski, MD, FACG

The CARES Act included $100 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide grant funding for the expenses and lost-revenues due to COVID-19. Many ACG members recently received checks from CMS based on your 2019 services. The total amount of funding for providers available through this program is $50 billion. The initial distribution was $30 billion. The second portion of the distributions is $20 billion. Unlike the first portion of this program, however, the second portion requires an application.

Click here for more background.

Click here to begin the application process.

HHS announced last week that the attestation deadline is extended for providers to acknowledge receipt of payments and accept the terms and conditions. You will now have 45 days, increased from 30 days, from the date you receive a payment to attest and accept the Terms and Conditions or return the funds.

Click here to learn more about my experience with the application process.

Remember to Contact Your ACG Governor

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

The current pandemic has created a lot more questions than answers, as states and localities deal with COVID-19 or are beginning to reopen medical practices. The ACG Board of Governors is monitoring this situation and is here to help you.

The 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.