The COVID-19 pandemic is placing financial stress on physician practices through the shutdown of non-essential services. Many face substantial loss of revenue. Emergency assistance is becoming available to physician practices and other providers through several federal and local Kansas City programs.
CARES ACT – SBA COVID-19 Loans
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has several forgivable loan programs that could benefit physician practices suffering financial hardship from COVID-19. See an SBA summary of the programs. See guidance from the American Medical Association on these programs.
- The Paycheck Protection Program allows a small business to apply to an SBA-approved lender for a loan of up to 250% of the business’ average monthly payroll costs to cover eight weeks of payroll as well as help with other expenses like rent, mortgage payments and utilities. The maximum loan amount is $10 million.
- The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL) provides lower interest loans of up to $2 million, with principal and interest deferment available for up to four years. These are available to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses. An eligible entity that has applied for an EIDL loan can request an advance on that loan, of not more than $10,000, which the SBA must distribute within three days. The loan advance does not have to be repaid.
CARES ACT – $100 Billion Fund for Health Care Providers
- The CARES Act creates a $100 billion fund of direct financial support to hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers. This support is for the costs of treating COVID-19 patients as well as to ease the financial impact on those who lose revenue due reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic. The exact eligibility criteria and application process are not yet defined, pending implementation. The American Medical Association and other health care organizations sought this program. Watch for further announcements.
Kansas City COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Fund
- The KC COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Fund is a new community-backed $5 million small business relief loan fund intended to provide immediate relief to Kansas City-area small businesses experiencing extreme economic disruption and financial strain due to COVID-19. The KC COVID-19 Small Business Relief Loan Fund is meant to help bridge the gap for those small businesses that need more immediate and flexible support. The fund is supported by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Area Development Council, the Civic Council of Great Kansas City, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and others. Learn more and apply. Note: Due to the volume of requests, this program is not currently accepting applications. Watch for further announcements as additional funding becomes available.
Accelerated and Advance Medicare Payments
- Also part of the CARES Act, CMS will expand the accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat COVID-19. Accelerated and advance Medicare payments provide emergency funding and addresses cash flow issues based on historical payments when there is disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing. CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the public health emergency related to COVID-19. The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers. Learn more about requesting accelerated and advance Medicare payments.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
- The CARES Act establishes an Employee Retention Tax Credit. This credit for employers equals 50% of qualified wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees. It applies to qualified wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an eligible employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000. Learn more about the Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Student Loan Relief
- Also under the CARES Act, student loan borrowers do not need to make payments on loans held by the federal government (Direct Loans and FFEL Loans held by the U.S. Department of Education) through September 30, 2020. Borrowers with commercially-held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible, and private student loan borrowers are also not eligible. No interest will accrue on such loans for the same time period. Students will be eligible for emergency financial aid grants from their institutions to meet unexpected and urgent needs relating to coronavirus, including expenses relating to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare. Payments on federal student loans will resume after September 30, 2020. Learn more about student loan relief from this American Medical Association summary.
Learn more about other relief available to physician practices this summary of the CARES Act from the AMA.