Congress passes COVID-19 bill with key physician, health system provisions

Having passed the US. Senate several days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the ‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’ this afternoon.  

Of interest to physicians, the measure will…

– Allow the Small Business Administration to make loans of up to $10 million to help small businesses cover payroll and overhead costs, with expanded loan forgiveness criteria. Physician practices with up to 500 employees would qualify.

– Provide $100 billion in direct financial support to hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This would be earmarked for the costs associated with treating COVID-19 patients as well as “easing the financial impact on those who lose revenue due to reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic.” The eligibility criteria and application process will be established by the applicable agencies.

– Suspend the two percent Medicare sequester in May through December 2020.

– Limit liability for volunteer health care professionals during the COVID-19 emergency response.

– Temporarily waive the face-to-face visit requirement for home dialysis patients.

– Authorize the HHS Secretary to waive telehealth coverage requirements for new patients during a national emergency (this had been limited to established patients who had been seen within the past three years).

– Allow the enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.

President Donald Trump is now expected to sign the bill into law. 

MAG members can contact Bethany Sherrer at with questions.

AMA ‘CARES Act’ summary