Onward and Upward 2

020 has been an unusual year, to say the least. As the country continues to battle

COVID-19 and we get used to the new nor- mal, the end of the year seems like a good time to thank our members for their support in ASCA’s advocacy efforts. Throughout this tough year, ASCA worked

tirelessly with the White House staff, senior officials at the US Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Medi- care & Medicaid Services, and the members of Congress to make sure that ASCs were rep- resented in the conversations that defined the nation’s COVID-19 response and had access to the financial relief packages, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Over a two-month period from March to

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April, the Trump administration passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Fam- ilies First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Secu- rity (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The first act authorized $8.3 billion for response efforts, including $3 billion for the research and development of vaccines, more than $2 billion for the Centers for Dis- ease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state agencies, and additional funding for the National Institutes of Health and US Food & Drug Administration. Additionally, certain telehealth requirements were waived so that Medicare beneficiaries could receive tele- health services at home. The second bill expanded federal nutrition assistance programs and unemployment insur- ance and created family and medical leave pro- grams. The family and medical leave require- ments, funded by the federal government, and accommodations in that program for smaller employers and healthcare workers, were par- ticularly relevant to the business administra- tion side of ASCs. The bill also removed a barrier for patients by eliminating cost sharing for coronavirus testing and increased federal support for Medicaid programs. The CARES Act created the PPP, added $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund and


made changes to the tax code to give ASCs and others needed financial support. The bill provided additional flexibility for telehealth services, extended programs under Medi- care and Medicaid and waived sequestration through the end of the calendar year. CARES also included rebate checks from the Inter- nal Revenue Service to individuals and fami- lies and expanded unemployment insurance, among other provisions. The last legislation provided more than $300 billion in additional funding for the PPP, $75 billion in additional funding for the Provider Relief Fund and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. ASCA made sure ASCs were considered in each of these critical support efforts. In March, CMS announced the Hospitals

Without Walls program. ASCs were provided two options for participation in the program: 1) contract with local healthcare systems to provide hospital services, or 2) enroll and bill as hospitals during the emergency declara- tion if it is not inconsistent with their state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan. Although this program was not as suc- cessful or as widely adopted as CMS had envisioned, it was critical as ASCA and its members played defense against ASCs being converted into COVID-19 wards or having their equipment seized. In-house, ASCA created an online

COVID-19 Resource Center that offered information for states, federal announce- ments, pre-recorded CDC webinars, accred- iting organization announcements, FAQs and myriad other COVID-19-related resources. None of this work would have been possi- ble without the support of our members. We want to thank every one of you for helping to make this possible and encourage all to make certain your ASC is a member of ASCA in 2021. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Bill Prentice Chief Executive Officer

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