Seeking Financial Support
ACEP Policy Priorities: 1) Ensure federal and state emergency funding is targeted and distributed beyond hospitals, such as for EMS, emergency physicians, and other relevant hospital-based specialty physicians who are not hospital-employed. 2) Provide financial stability so emergency physicians can treat patients, maintain readiness, and be fully prepared for patient surges. 3) Furnish temporary relief for student loan borrowers by providing all necessary flexibility for repayment during this uncertain time.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 39 – No 05 – May 2020
Progress: We have consistently pressed for emergency physicians and other frontline health care workers to be prioritized during the distribution of stimulus funding.
On March 24, ACEP sent a letter to Congress requesting financial support so emergency physicians can treat patients, maintain readiness, and be fully prepared for patient surges. We sent a letter to HHS Sec. Azar in response to the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides $100 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. We asked HHS to prioritize funding for frontline health care workers, especially emergency physicians, who are risking their lives combating the virus and are at the highest risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and missing work. On April 3, we sent a follow-up letter to the HHS secretary specifically requesting $3.6 billion to support emergency physician practices.
When the initial $30 billion wave of funding was distributed, we disagreed with the methodology and terms because ACEP felt basing distribution on historical Medicare spending was preferential toward hospitals, unfairly penalized emergency medicine practices for caring for underserved populations, and did not prioritize frontline health care practitioners. On April 14, we sent another letter to HHS Sec. Azar reiterating our previous requests and expressing our questions and concerns about the initial $30 billion wave of funding and the associated terms and conditions that health care practitioners must agree to in order to keep their share of the funds. We continue to track new waves of funding from this “Provider Relief Fund” and are keeping our members apprised of announcements at www.acep.org/covid19financialsupport. We are in constant contact with HHS to reiterate our concerns.
On April 15, ACEP signed on to an American Medical Association (AMA) letter on issues including direct financial support, temporary Medicare and Medicaid payment changes, liability relief, support for medical students and residents, and small business loans.
Our work is not done. ACEP remains engaged with legislators as negotiations continue on future COVID-19 response packages to ensure our legislative priorities are addressed, including liability reform, student loan relief for emergency physicians with privately held student loans, hazard pay and other financial assistance, mental health access for frontline physicians and other health care workers responding to the pandemic, and many others.
While we press for COVID-related progress, other factions are trying to slide one-sided, insurer-favored surprise billing legislation into the response packages. ACEP is pushing back on that as hard as possible, explaining that now is not the time to introduce divisive surprise billing legislation into this critical debate about how to responsibly and adequately respond to the pandemic.
Through all the noise, ACEP will continue to be your voice. We will push for what’s right. We have never been prouder to represent you, our health care heroes on the front lines.