Coronavirus: MGMA calls for direct financial assistance for medical practices

March 19, 2020

The organization is pushing for a series of provisions to be included in the third economic stimulus bill currently being written in Washington D.C.

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is urging congressional leaders to take bold action to help group practices struggling under the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the latest round of economic stimulus.

In a letter addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, MGMA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Anders Gilberg laid out nine recommendations which will provide direct and increased payments to doctors and their practices to allow them to maintain their financial viability.

“The rapidly evolving situation is creating financial uncertainty for physician practices, who are expending extra resources to make the clinical and operational changes necessary to address the current public health crisis,” Gilberg writes. “Expenses are increasing while revenue is decreasing, creating an unstable trajectory that must be addressed to ensure patient access to care.”

The recommendations laid out in the letter are:

  • Identify ways to secure and distribute personal protective equipment to frontline physicians and staff and increasing the $500 million in funding for this equipment already provided in a previous stimulus bill.

  • Call on the Trump administration and all commercial insurers to ensure parity in coverage, payment, and billing guidelines for telemedicine.

  • Suspend Medicare sequestration cuts to physicians and hospitals.

  • Direct use of national disaster relief funding or other funding to reimburse physicians at 110 percent of 2020 Medicare rates for uninsured patients’ COVID-19 related care (a move also pushed by the America’s Frontline Physicians).

  • Increase the 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor by an amount sufficient to offset increased costs and lost revenue due to COVID-19.

  • Institute payroll tac relief, advance tax credits, and other changes to tax policy directed specifically at physicians’ practices to support viability for the duration of the emergency.

  • Provide CMS with regulatory authority to make changes to how the Quality Payment Program is implemented during the national emergency, including extending data submission deadlines for quality rereporting programs.

  • Expand paid family, medical, and sick leave using federal funds and ensure physician practices have immediate access to funding or tax relief to offset the costs of the expansion.

  • Fund an increase in Medicaid payments to physicians to set reimbursement rates at no less that Medicare rates.

“We stand ready to work with you as you continue to develop legislation to respond to COVID-19,” Gilberg says in the letter.

As of March 18, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a near-shutdown of many cities across the country as the CDC reports 7,038 total cases in the U.S.

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