More Federal Funds Available, But Not For All Texas Physicians
By David Doolittle

MACRA_EIDM

Starting today, some Texas physicians and health care facilities will be able to register for more federal financial assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) on Monday again began accepting applications for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which had been on hold because of lack of funds.

The funds are part of a $484 billion COVID-19 relief package President Trump signed into law Friday.

“With the additional funding … SBA will resume processing EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and Advance applications that are already in the queue on a first-come, first-served basis,” SBA said. A new date for new EIDL and EIDL Advance applications has not been set.

Meanwhile, physicians who treat uninsured COVID-19 patients can register for emergency payments from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is part of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department. Congress allocated more than $100 billion for the program. To be eligible, physicians must register to be paid and assent to certain terms and conditions, such as verifying the patient is uninsured and agreeing not to balance bill, HHS said.

Payments will begin on May 6. Any physician can seek funding, including those who do not generally participate in Medicare, such as pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists. However, no portion of the dollars were reserved exclusively for physicians. Thus, the Texas Medical Association encourages physicians to submit claims as soon as possible. Payments will be made until the pool is spent.

The funds are part of the first round of emergency funding Congress allocated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provider Relief Fund.

HHS dispersed $30 billion earlier this month to hospitals, physicians, and other health care professionals in direct proportion to their share of Medicare fee-for-service spending.

Starting today, those facilities can apply for an additional $20 billion from HHS that will be distributed based on 2018 net revenue. Facilities will need to submit revenue data and tax form data through a General Distribution Portal.

A date has not been set for a second round of emergency grants through the Provider Relief Fund, which Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  Director Seema Verma said will be available for health care professionals and facilities that receive much of their revenue from Medicaid and other sources. As a result, physicians who receive much of their revenue from Medicaid, including pediatricians and OB/Gyns, are still waiting for relief.

All of this comes as CMS announced this weekend that it has suspended its Medicare Advance Payment Program (APP) to Medicare Part B health care professionals effective immediately. CMS expanded the Accelerated and the Advance Payment Programs to more Medicare Part A and B health care professionals to lessen the financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, facilities who received a loan through the program can apply for part of the new allocation of $20 billion through the Provider Relief Fund.

To help you navigate who is eligible for emergency funding, HRSA has published a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on its website.

To help you make informed decisions for your practice during the pandemic, TMA has published a Practice Viability Toolkit that provides up-to-date information and resources. The toolkit includes a section on cash flow, including SBA loan assistance, lines of credit, payment deferrals, loan refinancing, and loans from private banks.

You can find the toolkit and other tools, resources, and information on the practice viability section of the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center.

Last Updated On

April 27, 2020

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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