Two weeks ago, ISMA signed on to a letter from the AMA urging Congress to provide dedicated financial relief for physicians under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
In the final version of the bill, Congress appropriated $100 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to provide economic relief to health care providers, but the specifics of how that money was to be distributed through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remained unclear.
Now, ISMA has signed on to a letter from the AMA and more than 130 other physician organizations to HHS Secretary Alex Azar with recommendations for how the $100 billion stimulus should be distributed. The letter advises that money from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund should be used to provide one month of revenue to each physician. These payments would be calculated using an individual’s average monthly Medicare payment amount from October to December 2019 as the basis for determining pre-pandemic monthly revenue.
Although some medical practices may be able to take advantage of small business loans under the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program or seek other financial relief through the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, physician practices across the country are seeing drastic decreases in patient volume due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Without the additional infusion of financial relief, practices could be forced to close or reduce staff.
- Physicians are renting separate lodgings to keep their families safe.
- Medical offices and ambulatory surgical centers have halted non-essential visits and procedures to preserve resources for COVID-19 patients and slow community spread of the disease.
- Small medical practices are already operating on thin margins and don’t have ready access to capital.
Physicians are continuing to put their patients’ needs first to combat this unprecedented public health emergency,” the letter concluded. “We urge you to support them against financial peril while they put their lives and businesses at risk. The entire letter can be read here