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Practice Protection Committee

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Practice Protection Committee is monitoring federal actions intended to ease the financial burden imposed on practices by the COVID-19 pandemic. On these pages, Fellows can find information on current and previously available resources including eligibility and responsibilities for those who have accessed federal financial aid programs. ACS staff will regularly update this information to reflect the most accurate available.

In addition to the Financial Resources document, Fellows can find numerous other resources provided to assist them manage these extraordinary circumstances. These include the ACS Employed Surgeon Handbook, the ACS Private Practice Handbook, webinars to assist Fellows in light of circumstances imposed by the pandemic, a series of video interviews with members of the committee on selected topics and a library of additional resources. In addition, the ACS Practice Protection Committee produced a comprehensive guide, Economic Survival Strategies in the COVID World, which includes a set of key principles and a suggested process for Fellows to undertake to shore up personal and business finances. The guide includes a spreadsheet exercise and suggestions to consider based on which of three specific scenarios most accurately describes the one’s current financial situation.

Latest Updates

Provider Relief Phase 3 Funds Available

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced on October 2, a new disbursement of $20 billion from the Provider Relief Funds. Applications for these Phase 3 funds are currently being accepted through November 6, 2020. The purpose of this distribution is to ensure that all who apply will have the opportunity to receive 2 percent of annual revenue from patient care plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19. This funding opportunity is available both to providers who received or rejected funding from prior opportunities as well as those who entered practice in 2020. Surgeons who have already received funds from previous disbursements may be eligible for an add on payment.

Congress Relaxes Repayment Terms for Medicare Advance Payments

On October 2nd, legislation was signed into law that extends the grace period for repayment of funds received via the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program and reduces the percentage of Medicare payments withheld during the repayment period. Physicians can now request up to one full year grace period for deferment before new Medicare charges are used as an offset to recoup the advance payments previously received. Once recoupment begins, physicians have up to 15 months to repay the full amount without interest and the amount withheld is reduced to 25 percent for the first 11 months and 50 percent of charges for the next 6 months. Any balance remaining 29 months after the loan was made will accrue interest at a new lower rate of 4 percent.

HHS Renews Public Health Emergency

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) July 23 formally extended the COVID-19 PHE declaration for another 90 days. The previous extension was set to expire on Saturday, July 25, meaning that the new extension will be in effect until October 23, or until Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar deems that the emergency no longer exists.

Several payment policies and regulatory adjustments are linked to the PHE. Examples of policies linked to the PHE are the Medicare inpatient 20 percent add-on payment for COVID-19 patients, increased federal Medicaid matching rates, requirements that insurers cover COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing, and waivers of telehealth restrictions.