ACG Board of Governors Meeting this Weekend

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

The ACG Board of Governors met on Saturday, October 3rd, to discuss important state and local issues impacting you and your practice. Among the issues discussed were new rules related to EHRs and patient access to your clinical notes.


New Interoperability and Patient Access Rules:
There are new federal requirements designed to promote EHR interoperability and to enhance patients’ ability to access and control their medical information. The goal is to prevent information blocking among software developers and insurers, and opening various health IT "silos" and “ecosystems.” ACG members must understand that these new rules significantly impact your clinical notes and patient care management.

What is “information blocking”? Do I have to provide complete access to all of my clinical notes and summaries? Are there exceptions? When does this start? What about hospital employees and ASCs? Click here to read ACG’s guidance on these new requirements, including the enforcement dates and possible exceptions. Please make sure you and your practice are prepared for this.

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.

COVID-19: Important Updates for GI Practices

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

New Bill to Address Pending Medicare Cuts!
Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut when increases to evaluation and management (E/M) services are implemented next year. GI procedures are scheduled to be cut roughly 10%. ACG members have urged their representatives to sign various letters to House leadership and HHS about these cuts. Your advocacy efforts are working!

Good news: Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX) has introduced a bill that waives budget-neutrality rules for one year, preventing these cuts from being implemented by offsetting the costs with leftover Provider Relief Fund money. As you know, this program was part of the CARES Act passed in the spring of 2020. This idea is also generating some interest in the U.S. Senate as well. ACG will continue to update you on any new developments.

Letter to House Leadership is Still Open: Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) are leading this letter urging Congressional leaders to address the E/M and budget-neutrality issue in any upcoming legislation moving through the House. We have over 100 commitments thus far and need to continue this momentum! The deadline to sign is October 16th. Please urge your representatives to sign this letter!

Over 160 U.S. House members signed the letter led by Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS) to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma, urging them to address and prevent these reimbursement cuts in the CY 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Click here to view the final letter. In August, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) championed a letter to House leadership asking for a 2 year budget neutrality waiver. Rep. Rush is also a sponsor of Dr. Burgess' bill mentioned above. 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.

HHS Re-Opens Funding Programs for GI Practices: This week CMS announced that the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program is back up and running. This Medicare loan program allows CMS to make advance payments to providers and practices hurt by COVID-19. Providers were required to make payments starting in August of this year, but Congress recently delayed repayment until one year after payment was issued. Click here for the revised fact sheet. Click here for the FAQs.

HHS also recently announced $20 billion in new Provider Relief Program funding. Under this “Phase 3 allocation,” providers that have already received PRF payments will be invited to apply for additional funding for financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by COVID-19. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, can also apply. HHS released the following related to the Phase 3 General Distribution. The deadline to apply is November 6, 2020. Click here for the fact sheet. Click here for the “step-by-step provider guide” presentation.

One thing to note from the slides is that payments will be given to the filing or organizational TIN, not directly to subsidiary TINs. This is a departure from prior PRF phases, where payments may have gone directly to subsidiary TINs.

Income Tax Implications: 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. 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.

Review the Rules on Pass-Through Income and Retained Earnings. Why does ACG support this bill? Tax-exempt income earned by a partnership is also tax-exempt at the partner level (it may increase a partner’s basis). There also may be some confusion regarding any IRS mandate regarding retained-earnings and pass-through entities. ACG encourages GI practices to discuss these tax implications and rules with your accountants and tax professionals.

Telehealth Remains a Top ACG Public Policy Priority: Last weekend, the ACG Board of Governors discussed the importance of increasing access to telehealth and telephone services, especially among the Medicare aged population and in rural areas. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently introduced a bill that permanently waives Medicare's geographic and site restrictions.

ACG is also working with the members of the House Telehealth Caucus in promoting their bill that extends CMS' temporary waivers on telehealth and telephone services.

Register Today for the ACG Practice Management Summit

From ACG Practice Management Committee Chair, Louis J. Wilson, MD, FACG

One benefit of the ACG Virtual On-Demand Meeting? You can attend the full slate of courses on Friday, October 23rd! Learn more about the hottest practice management and reimbursement issues facing GI practices today. There is also LIVE CHAT on Physician Compensation.

Register today for the Practice Management Summit at the ACG Annual Meeting.

Save 20% with the ACG All Access Pass! The ACG All Access Pass includes on-demand access to all course presentations and live stream sessions (being hosted October 23-28).

ACG Practice Management Summit Course Directors Harish K. Gagneja, MD, FACG and Sapna V. Thomas, MD, FACG