American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Federal and State Regulatory and Legislative Issues

Federal Government Provides Financial Relief for Physicians

The American College of Surgeon (ACS) Division of Advocacy and Health Policy has identified information regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law March 27, that provides some pathways for physicians to obtain financial assistance for their practices.

First, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) has recently expanded the Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program. Surgeons and others may request advance Medicare payments to address cash flow issues based on historical payments. More information about this program can be found here and here.

In addition, relief for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, including physicians’ practices, was included in the $2 trillion CARES Act legislation. The provisions include the appropriation of $562 million for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to ensure that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has adequate resources to assist businesses in need. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to provide vital economic support designed to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and U.S. territories are eligible to apply.

Learn more about Economic Injury Disaster Loans and find the appropriate applications here.

New York Chapter Letter Underscores the Needs of Surgeons in a COVID-19 Epicenter

In a March 28 letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, leaders of the New York Chapter of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) outlined several concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in the following areas: personal protective equipment (PPE), interpretation of immunity, crisis standards, maintenance of emergency access to critical medical and surgical care, liability relief, and volunteer immunity.

The letter, signed by New York Chapter President, Marina Kurian, MD, FACS, underscored the need for PPE in both hospitals and office settings, even with the increased engagement in telemedicine, and requested additional information on protocols for distribution of supplies.

The chapter also requested clarification on civil immunity protection, specifically regarding delayed treatment as a result of the governor’s executive order to postpone nonessential elective surgery.

The chapter asked that the governor’s office work with the ACS and critical care societies to establish crisis standards of care in the allocation of ventilators and other critical resources to help guide difficult decisions regarding access and to maintain professionalism and morale of health care professionals. The letter also called for policymakers to recognize other essential public health services (patients with injuries, heart attacks, strokes and so on), despite the overwhelming need of patients infected with the COVID-19 virus.

The chapter also requested a meaningful reduction in physician medical liability premiums for the duration of the pandemic or process for physicians to request a reduction in premiums based on individual circumstances.

Furthermore, the letter outlined the necessity of removing barriers that prohibit licensed surgeons and other qualified surgeons from outside the state from voluntarily administering care during the pandemic crisis.

The New York Chapter encourages surgeon-leaders to be proactive in communicating their specific needs and concerns to policymakers in their states.