Orthopaedic surgeons across the country are complying with guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to postpone elective surgeries. In turn, they are experiencing plummeting case volumes and struggling to stay in business while keeping their employees on-staff. As the pandemic becomes more manageable and these surgeries can take place, many private orthopaedic practices will have become financially insolvent, threatening access to care. We commend Congress for providing relief in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but that support may not be enough.
Contact your representative to ensure the survival of this resource and to allow orthopaedic surgeons to effectively respond to the crisis.
AAOS is urging Congress to take the following steps in the next COVID-19 response legislation:
- Direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of the Treasury to prioritize relief provided within the CARES Act for physician practices in communities at risk of losing access to needed musculoskeletal care, should those practices be unable to remain open.
- Direct the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to extend the recoupment deadline in the Medicare accelerated payments program provided for in the CARES Act to December 31, 2021 and to clarify the tax liability for recipients. This will allow for loan forgiveness for rural providers and facilities that cannot afford repayment at that date. Many orthopaedic practices have reported that the accelerated payment program will not provide the intended relief without this extension.
- Include the Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act, introduced by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), to extend a critical lifeline to physicians and facilities most at risk of closing their doors.
- Expand eligibility within the Paycheck Protection Program for physician practices with more than 500 employees who desperately need access to forgivable loan programs in order to maintain staff.