Washington Watch Weekly - June 5, 2020 | ASCRS
Washington Watch

Washington Watch Weekly - June 5, 2020

President Signs PPP Loan Flexibility Legislation into Law

On June 5, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act into law. The legislation passed the Senate earlier this week by unanimous consent, and was passed by the House last week by a vote of 417 to 1.

The bill extends the forgiveness period for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from eight to 24 weeks, reduces payroll spending requirements from 75% of loan funds to 60% of loan funds, and extends the June 30th deadline for rehiring workers to the end of this year. Businesses now also have up to five years, instead of two years, to repay any money owed on a loan.

Bi-Partisan Congressional Health Leaders Request Clarification from HHS on Timeline for Provider Relief Disbursements

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (R-OR), as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting clarification by June 10 on the agency’s plan and timeline for disbursing the Provider Relief Funds allotment for Medicaid dependent providers.

Congress authorized $100 billion in Provider Relief Funds through the CARES Act and added $75 billion through the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act. Many Medicaid-dependent providers have received little or no aid from the Provider Relief Fund.

It is our understanding that HHS is preparing to set up a new portal very soon for use by all the providers who have not yet received any funds from the CARES Act. This includes people who see Medicaid but not Medicare patients, and people who are Medicare providers but for some reason have not received any of the funds to date. HHS thinks there are probably errors in the database, which may be one reason this occurred. Their goal is to get the new portal opened, take applications, and start paying people by June 15th.

Bi-Partisan House letter to HHS and CMS Requests Extension of Pass-Through Period Due to the Public Health Emergency; Senate Letter Expected to Follow

At the request of ASCRS and the Ophthalmic Pharmaceutical Coalition, a bi-partisan House letter led by Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) was sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma requesting they use their authority under Section 1135(b)(5) of the Social Security Act to extend the pass-through period for qualifying devices, drugs, and biologicals so the time does not lapse during the public health emergency. Congress provided authority for CMS to extend and modify timelines in public emergencies.

Specifically, the letter requests the extension of the pass-through period for covered products so that any time accrued during the public health emergency does not count against the total transitional period designated for a given product.

HHS Updates its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQs.

Last week, HHS updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The new or modified FAQs conform to the new deadline of 90 days to attest to the payment before HHS considers the provider to have (by default) attested by retaining the funds. In particular, the 5/29 changes have additional information warranting review.

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