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March 26, 2020

What the stimulus bill means for GIs and practices

In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, we continue to urge congressional leaders and policymakers to take swift action to protect gastroenterologists, our patients and our health community.
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Congress has heard our rally cry

On March 25, the third installation of COVID-19 economic relief legislation passed the Senate. It’s expected to pass the House tomorrow and be signed into law. AGA has advocated for provisions to protect our providers and businesses and we’re happy to report that the following provisions are in the bill. We’ll continue to push for direct funding for physicians recognizing that many practices and ASCs are struggling.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) loans:
  • Businesses with 500 employees or less are eligible unless the covered industry’s SBA size standard allows more than 500 employees.
  • Allows 501(c)(3) non-profits to gain access to the program.
  • Increases the maximum loan amount to $10 million.
  • Expands allowable uses of loans to include payroll support, such as:
    • Paid sick or medical leave.
    • Employee salaries.
    • Mortgage payments.
  • Provides a process for loan forgiveness for certain payroll costs as well as mortgage, rent and utility obligations.
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund:
  • $100 billion for health care services related to the COVID-19.
  • Reimbursement to eligible health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to the pandemic.
  • Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act:
  • $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees and other investments for companies with losses tied to the pandemic that threaten continued operation.
  • Suspension of sequestration- Physicians avoid a 2 percent cut in their Medicare reimbursement.
  • Extension of geographic index floor- Increases Medicare payments for providers in non-urban areas.
  • Increased Medicare telehealth flexibilities during the emergency period.
    • AGA will continue to advocate for audio-only coverage as this issue is still not resolved.
  • Liability protections for health care professionals during the emergency response.
  • Coverage of preventive services and vaccines.
  • $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to ensure production of PPE.

Correspondence to congressional leadership

  • March 25, 2020– With the American Medical Association, a letter is sent requesting the inclusion of support for physician practices in any economic stimulus package.
  • March 24, 2020– With the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, a letter is sent asking for relief for independent physicians’ offices.
  • March 20, 2020– A joint society letter is sent asking for increased funding for and access to personal protective equipment (PPE); softened prior authorization, telehealth reimbursement and Medicare reporting requirements; and financial safeguards for health care professionals and practices.
Make your voice heard Contact your legislator and share your experiences during this pandemic and urge them to continue to protect our community through congressional action.
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