AMA Supports House’s Plan to Relax Medicare Loan Repayment Terms

The American Medical Association (AMA) this week expressed support for the bill’s continuing resolution provisions in Congress that would provide relief to cash-strapped medical offices.

According to a statement from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a continuing resolution to maintain government funding until December 11.

“The continuing resolution presented today will avoid a catastrophic shutdown amid the ongoing pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes, and will keep government open until December 11, when we expect to have bipartisan legislation. to fund the government for this fiscal year, ”Pelosi said in a statement.

The continuing resolution includes provisions that would benefit medical offices struggling financially amid the pandemic.

According to a statement from the AMA, the revisions to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments (AAP) program included in the resolution will help keep the doors open during the pandemic and will continue to provide access to patients for now.

“When adopting the continued resolution, patients should know that their doctor is more likely to overcome the economic challenges of the pandemic,” WADA President Susan A. Bailey, MD said in a statement. . “Congress recognized the danger and rightly changed the program so that doctors can continue to see patients.”

According to the statement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services worked quickly in the spring to provide financial assistance to doctors, which has proven to be a lifeline for many practices.

WADA also noted in its statement that it also appreciated that the CARES law postpones the start of AAP reimbursement until 120 days after the initial payment and allows up to 210 days for reimbursement of physicians.

Doctors have expressed some concerns about their ability to repay the money during economic conditions amid the pandemic.

The AMA statement noted that earlier this year polls showed that from March to May, physician office revenues fell by at least 50%. When the practices began to reopen, some physicians were able to recover some of the loss, but not all of it due to reduced visits and procedures.

In addition, WADA noted in its press release that the repayment conditions are difficult to meet. Under these terms, doctors would have all of their health insurance claims withheld to repay the loans on short notice. After a few months, any outstanding balance a doctor might have would be subject to an interest rate of 10.25%.

According to the statement, the continued resolution would delay recovery of disbursed funds for up to 1 year after the advance payment was made to a medical office. The balance would be due by September 2022.

The resolution would also reduce the clawback amount per claim from 100% to 25% for the first 11 months and the 50% of claims withheld for an additional six months. If it is not repaid in full, the interest rate kicks in. This interest rate would also be lowered from 10.25% to 4%.

“Members of Congress and the Administration have opted for a bipartisan response to the economic sword hanging over medical offices. This relief will be felt across the county as doctors will be able to continue providing health care during the pandemic, ”Bailey said in the statement.

If approved in the House, the proposal will then go to the Senate for a vote.

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