On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) was enacted into law, after passage in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The newest COVID relief package includes several important health-policy-related changes impacting otolaryngology- head and neck surgery. The following are provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 most relevant to the specialty:
- Provides $7.66 billion to bolster the public health workforce and COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Includes $280 million for programs that support mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers and public safety officers.
- Provides $47.8 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Funds the Defense Production Act to provide $10 billion to boost domestic production of critical PPE, secure supply chains and increase capacity for vital vaccine production and to help onshore production of rapid COVID-19 tests.
- Adds $15 billion in new funding for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grants to provide hard-hit, underserved small businesses with increased flexible monetary relief.
- Includes an additional $8.5 billion dollars for rural Medicare and Medicaid providers for healthcare-related expenses and lost revenues attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic not reimbursed by other sources. These funds are not directed to the existing Provider Relief Fund (PRF) however. the law’s language largely aligns with previous PRF appropriations language.
- Provides $7.25 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits.
Unfortunately, with the enactment of the ARP, physician practices are now confronted by yet another threat of Medicare cuts in 2022. According to the Congressional Budget Office, passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 would set in motion reductions in overall Medicare spending of 4% next year, totaling $36 billion, as a result of PAYGO budget rules. We strongly oppose these arbitrary across-the-board Medicare cuts, and the predictably devastating impact they would have on many already distressed physician practices.
The AAO-HNS is working with our Congressional champions to reverse these cuts and provide needed relief to America’s physicians as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your Representative today!