Congress passes critical PPP legislation
On Wednesday, the Senate succeeded in passing the House of Representatives' bill that makes significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation would lower the Small Business Administration’s requirement that 75% of the loan be spent on payroll costs to qualify for forgiveness to 60%, extend the Covered Period to 24 weeks (up until Dec. 31, 2020), allow PPP borrowers to defer payroll tax payments, establish a minimum maturity term of five years for the balance remaining after forgiveness, and provide greater flexibility for borrowers to rehire employees that would otherwise reduce the amount forgiven. Once the President signs this legislation, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 will become law.
MGMA to HHS: Disburse remaining Provider Relief Funds
MGMA is urging the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to expeditiously provide financial relief to group practices by disbursing the remaining Provider Relief Funds. Congress appropriated $175 billion to HHS to deliver financial relief to healthcare providers in order to cover expenses and lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. HHS is making disbursements through a $50 billion General Distribution, however some providers that submitted applications for additional funding have yet to receive payments, despite applying over a month ago. MGMA is encouraging HHS to quickly deliver funds pursuant to those applications.
After accounting for disbursements to date, HHS still has approximately $95 billion in unallocated Provider Relief Funds. Since eligibility for payments under the $50 billion General Distribution was contingent upon Medicare enrollment, MGMA is urging HHS to support group practices underrepresented in this distribution, such as providers that do not accept Medicare.
Save the date: 2020 Washington Update and Policy Outlook webinar
MGMA Government Affairs invites you to join us for a member-exclusive webinar on Thursday, June 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET. With legislative and regulatory changes reshaping the healthcare landscape in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this timely program will present a mid-year update on the current state of federal healthcare policy impacting medical groups. The session’s forward-looking agenda will also provide considerations for the future of medical group practices and potential new actions Congress and the Administration could take in response to the pandemic. In addition, attendees will learn about ongoing MGMA advocacy in support of medical groups. Attendees will also have a chance to ask their most pressing questions during a question and answer session. Don’t delay - register now to secure your place!
New APM flexibilities for COVID-19
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new flexibilities to current and future Innovation Center alternative payment models (APMs) to address the public health emergency, as detailed in a new chart. The agency previously made changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program, summarized in the MGMA COVID-19 Action Center, but did not address other APM policies until this announcement.
- Extending the Next Generation accountable care organization (ACO) model through December 2021 and reducing 2020 downside risk.
- Delaying the start of new Direct Contracting and Kidney Care Choices models until April 1, 2021, and creating a new application cycle for 2022. The new Primary Care First model will still begin Jan. 1, 2021, but the Serious Illness component is delayed until April 1.
- Allowing participants in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) model the option to eliminate upside and downside risk for 2020.
- Additional changes to these and other models are further detailed in the chart.
MGMA advocated for CMS to extend the Next Gen ACO program as it was previously set to end this year and also called on the agency to make adjustments to APM policies in response to COVID-19. We are pleased to see that CMS heeded our advice and is in the process of evaluating individual model changes.
MGMA to Congress: Lift the ban on unique patient identifier
MGMA joined 68 leading healthcare organizations calling on Congress to reject the inclusion of outdated language in Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations legislation that prohibits HHS from spending any federal dollars to adopt a national unique patient identifier (UPI). Last year, the US House of Representatives voted to remove the ban but the Senate opposed the measure. Removing the prohibition will permit HHS to evaluate a range of solutions that protects patient privacy and is cost-effective, scalable, and secure. Deployment of a UPI would allow practices to more effectively match patient records, decrease medical errors, and facilitate EHR interoperability.