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MGMA Washington Connection

04/24/2020 10:35 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

Congress passes aid package to assist healthcare providers and small businesses

Today, Congress passed an economic aid package to assist healthcare providers and small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266) includes $321 billion for the recently depleted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) loans and grants, $75 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers, and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. If signed into law, the Small Business Administration can once again begin accepting PPP applications. The $75 billion for healthcare providers would be in addition to the original $100 billion in relief funds allocated under the CARES Act and distributed in the future by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). President Trump has signaled support and is expected to sign the bill into law.

MGMA advocates for CARES Act Provider Relief fund distribution and clarifications

MGMA urged HHS to clarify certain terms and conditions associated with accepting Provider Relief grant funds under the CARES Act. HHS distributed $30 billion in funds to Medicare providers starting April 10 and requires all recipients to sign an agreement form and attestation confirming receipt of the funds within 30 days. Medical group practices that do not wish to agree to the terms and conditions may return the payment, but any practice that does not return the funds or attest within 30 days will be deemed to have accepted the funds and associated conditions. Following numerous member questions and concerns about ambiguous or unclear attestation conditions, MGMA recommended HHS expeditiously release additional guidance so that group practices can make informed decisions before submitting attestations.

On April 22, HHS announced it is distributing another $20 billion which, together with the initial $30 billion, is described as a $50 billion “general allocation.” The $20 billion will be disbursed based on 2018 net patient revenue, not just Medicare fee-for-service. MGMA is seeking clarification on this announcement. Visit the Provider Relief landing page for more information.

CMS releases guidelines for reopening facilities to provide non-emergent, non-COVID care

This week, CMS announced phase 1 criteria to guide health systems and facilities as they consider resuming in-person care of non-COVID-19 patients in regions with low incidence of COVID-19 disease. The agency explains that careful planning is required to resume in-person care of patients requiring non-COVID-19

care, and all aspects of care must be considered, including:

  • Adequate facilities, workforce, testing, and supplies; and
  • Adequate workforce across phases of care (such as availability of clinicians, nurses, anesthesia, pharmacy, imaging, pathology support, and post-acute care).

MGMA will update members as CMS releases additional recommendations.

HHS announces delay of major parts of its interoperability rules

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, HHS announced a delay in its implementation and enforcement of a number of important provisions of recently-released interoperability regulations. For example, the requirement that hospitals provide practices patient data on admissions, discharge and transfer is delayed six additional months, going into effect one year after implementation of the final rule. In addition, the EHR vendors have an additional three months to comply with the requirement to support patient access to their data via third-party apps. The clock for implementation of the final rules does not start until they are published in the Federal Register, expected to occur early next month. HHS' Office of Inspector General also unveiled its proposed rule to impose financial penalties on certain entities that violate the information-blocking rules.

Extended 2019 MIPS data submission ends April 30, plus new 2020 COVID-19 improvement activity

The 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data submission extension will end on April 30, 2020, at 8 pm. Individual MIPS eligible clinicians (ECs) who have not submitted any data, and who do not submit their MIPS data by the submission deadline will qualify for the 2019 automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy. MIPS ECs, groups, and virtual groups that submitted some data, but not able to complete their 2019 MIPS submission can now apply for a 2019 extreme and uncontrollable circumstances exception due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also announced that ECs may now earn 2020 MIPS credit for participation in a clinical trial and reporting clinical information by attesting to the new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity. In order to receive credit for the new improvement activity, ECs must attest that they participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial utilizing a drug or biological product to treat a patient with a COVID-19 infection and report their findings through a clinical data repository or clinical data registry for the duration of their study. Click here for additional information on 2019 MIPS data submission and this new improvement activity.


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