American Medical Association COVID Update July 29
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Posted by: DCMS
The following is a release from the American Medical Association:
Attached is a letter to Congressional leaders that was organized by the American Medical Association and signed by 114
state medical societies and national specialty organizations opposing efforts to include surprise medical billing provisions in the new COVID-19 relief legislation under discussion in Congress. The letter makes the point that legislation to address
the current public health emergency is not the appropriate vehicle or time to address this issue when agreement in significant outstanding issues remains elusive.
Additionally, Senate Republicans released their version of the fourth COVID-19 relief package late Monday. Known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act, the package is actually a compilation of eight separate
bills addressing a broad range of issues such as restaurant worker support, reopening schools, and medical supply chain problems.
A few of the key health care issues addressed in the package include the following:
- Extending repayment terms under the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment program, delaying the start of the repayment period from 120 to 270 days after receipt of funds and extending the length of the repayment period from 12 to 18 months.
- Increasing the Public Health Services Emergency Fund established by the CARES Act by $25 billion.
- Creating an exclusive federal cause of action for coronavirus medical liability claims, under which health care providers would be liable only for coronavirus-related injuries caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.
- Expanding access to the Paycheck Protection Program to 501(c)(6) entities, which would include many health professional associations such as state medical societies and national specialty societies, and other program improvements.
- Providing authority to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to extend waivers and other telehealth policies through 2021.
- Maintaining Medicare Part B beneficiary premiums at 2020 rates through 2021.
- Requiring all personal protective equipment purchases for the National Strategic Stockpile to come from domestic suppliers whenever possible; state stockpiles of medical products and supplies would be established and supported by a $1 billion annual
appropriation through 2030.
- Providing $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other COVID-related public health activities.
The total cost of the package is approximately $1 trillion, about one-third of the amount that would be provided by the House-passed HEROES Act. A staff-prepared summary of pertinent parts of the HEALS Act is attached.
This legislative package represents an initial offering by Senate Republican leadership. It will likely undergo significant revisions prior to debate on the Senate floor. Since various COVID-19 relief programs are expiring at the end of July, Congress
faces pressure to send a final bipartisan package to the President for signature prior to adjourning for the August recess on August 10.