What ASC execs need to know about the COVID-19 relief bill: 6 details

President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion spending bill into law Dec. 27.

The bill adds funding to programs that support ASCs, according to an ASCA update.

"ASCA is pleased to see several provisions included in the end-of-year funding legislation that the association and its members requested," said Bill Prentice, CEO of ASCA. "These include changes to the deductibility for expenses paid for with Paycheck Protection Program funds and gross income considerations tied to that program, continued suspension of sequestration and a phase-out of the colonoscopy copay. We are also pleased to see that the policies adopted to address the issue of surprise medical bills appear to resolve this issue for patients in a way that strikes a balance between the obligations of providers and plans."

Six details:

1. The law adds $285 billion in PPP funding, which was initially established as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Organizations eligible for the second round of PPP relief must have 300 or fewer employees and report 25 percent revenue drop from 2019 to 2020.

2. Entities that receive PPP funds can take deductions for expenses paid with the loan proceeds, and gross income does not include the amount that would arise from PPP loan forgiveness for tax purposes, according to the report. ASCA advocated for these changes, among other aspects of the law.

3. The law extends the suspension of the Medicare payment sequester to March 31, 2021.

4. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule's expected reductions for 2021 were mitigated to increase payments by 3.75 percent next year.

5. Cost sharing for colorectal cancer screening of Medicare beneficiaries would be phased out between January 2022 and January 2030 under the bill.

6. The law requires patients to pay just the in-network cost-sharing amount for some out-of-network care at facilities in-network with their health plans, thus limiting surprise billing.

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