From the Desk of Stacey Keough
Executive Director, Northeast PHO
In an effort to continue to keep you informed of current financial resources available, below you will find important updates during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Medicare FFS Claims: 2% Payment Adjustment (Sequestration) Suspended Through March
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act suspended the payment adjustment percentage of 2% applied to all Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) claims from May 1 through December 31. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, extends the suspension period to March 31, 2021. To view the notification, click on the link below. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/2020-12-28-mlnc-se.pdf
Massachusetts State Funding – $668 Million
The Baker-Polito Administration announced a $668 million program to provide new financial assistance to Massachusetts restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new business relief program will offer grants of up to $75,000, but not more than three months’ operating expenses, to be used for employee wage and benefits costs, space-related costs, and debt service obligations. The online application portal for the new program will open on Thursday, December 31, and will close Friday, January 15. More details on how to apply and eligibility requirements are available at www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org.
Federal Funding – Additional $284 Billion for Payroll Protection Program
President Trump signed into law a bill expanding pandemic relief benefits and extending a number of benefits. An additional $284 billion was allocated for disbursement from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). With this latest bill, eligible businesses may apply for a second round of PPP funding. Eligibility was expanded to include all nonprofits, including 501(c)(6) organizations. Read more on the federal relief program and changes in an overview from Cummings’ TradeCenter 128 client McLane Middleton.
What Americans Really Think About the Pandemic (shared by MHA)
A major component of stemming the spread of the virus depends on convincing the general public that the threat is real and that the social distancing recommendations and mandates are necessary. Yet we know that the public response hasn’t always been ideal.
For those interested in feeling the pulse of public opinion, these poll results from the Virginia-based Public Opinion Strategies company offers some fascinating insights.
For instance, in a significant shift from just three months prior, nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) indicated they believed the coronavirus situation was getting worse (compared to 42% who said the same at the end of September). 73% of Americans say they wear a mask every time they leave their house, up from 52% who said the same in May. But just 45% of Americans support the closure of bars/restaurants (down from 76% in April) and 50% support requiring people to stay in their homes except for essential errands (down from 80% in April). Roughly 6-in-10 Americans now say they would take the vaccine if it were available to them today, up from 50% who said the same a few months ago. Younger Americans, Republicans, women and people of color are all less likely to be willing to take the vaccine than their counterparts.
Tax info for physicians receiving Provider Relief Fund payments
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted an update to its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with important tax information for physicians. Physicians will receive a Form 1099 if, during 2020, they received and retained a total net payment over $600 from (1) the Provider Relief Fund, and/or (2) the COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment, and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured.