House Committees Complete Work on the American Rescue Plan ($1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package); House Expected to Vote During the Week of February 22
House committees have completed their work on translating the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan into legislative text. The individual pieces of legislation, which will be assembled into a single reconciliation bill by the House Budget Committee, will be included as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that is expected to be voted on by the House of Representatives during the week of February 22 after all of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores are available. Democratic leadership have indicated the package will be enacted prior to the March 14 expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits.
Latest Information on How to Handle Provider Relief Payments for Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program Loans
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) second draw loans are only available to entities that can demonstrate a 25% reduction in revenue. The SBA’s Interim Final Rule (IFR) notes that the key calculation related to revenue loss is a comparison of gross receipts, defined broadly to include “all revenue in whatever form received or accrued…from whatever source.” Therefore, funds from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program would likely be revenue received from a source and may be used to calculate eligibility for second draw loans.
The SBA’s only explicit exception is first draw PPP loans, which do not “count” for purposes of showing the required revenue loss for a second draw PPP loan. By contrast, the PRF funds are not explicitly exempted. Given that tax documentation is likely required for this determination and that the PRF funds are taxable, that revenue will likely be evident as part of the application process. While it is possible that SBA might exclude PRF funds at a later time through guidance or IFR, for now it would be cautious to count these funds for purposes of calculating the 25% revenue loss required to qualify for a second draw PPP loan.
President Biden to Nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to Head CMS; Elizabeth Fowler Top of Short List to Lead CMMI
As was anticipated, President Biden is expected to nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be the next Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Brooks-LaSure served as co-lead for President Biden’s transition team for the Department of Health and Human Services. She served as deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within CMS, as well as director of coverage policy at HHS, during the Obama administration.
Elizabeth Fowler appears to be on the top of the short list under consideration to lead the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations (CMMI). Fowler previously served in the Obama administration as a special assistant on health care and economic policy at the National Economic Council, as deputy director for policy at the CMS Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CIIO), and was chief health counsel to former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Since that time, she worked at the Commonwealth Fund and at Johnson & Johnson as its vice president of global health policy.
The Senate Finance and HELP Committees to Hold Confirmation Hearings on HHS Secretary Nominee Xavier Becerra
This week, both the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees announced they will hold confirmation hearings next week on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra. The HELP Committee hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 24 followed by the Senate Finance Committee hearing on February 25. Becerra, a former member of Congress, currently serves as California’s attorney general.
ASCRS Joins the Alliance of Specialty Medicine in Issuing Support for Legislation to Extend the Moratorium on Sequestration Through the Pandemic
On February 17, ASCRS joined the Alliance of Specialty Medicine in a letter to Representatives Bradley Schneider (D-IL) and David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), supporting their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 315, the Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act, which extends the moratorium on the 2% sequestration through the pandemic.
Last week, ASCRS joined the AMA and the medical community in a letter to House and Senate leadership urging Congress to enact the legislation.