On March 27, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This bill provides $2 trillion that aims to give financial relief to small businesses, support health care workers, get medical supplies to the front lines, fund research for treatments and vaccines, and stimulate the U.S. economy.
The American Academy of Family Physicians worked very hard to educate Congress on the need to support the family medicine and primary care workforce during these challenging times. This included urging them to supply greater resources for telehealth expansion and ensure that all practices, including community health centers, rural health clinics, and teaching health centers were able to keep their doors open to care for patients during this critical time.
- Financial relief for small businesses, including private family medicine practices.
- Addressing supply shortages
- Coverage for COVID-19 testing and medical services and provisions for Medicare and Medicaid
- Health care workforce support including primary care extensions, such as the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, the Community Health Centers program, and National Health Service Corps
- Telehealth benefits for a variety of health care services, not just COVID-19 support.
- Small business administration (SBA) assistance for business owners, including physician-owned practices, featuring short-term loan programs, loan forgiveness, and emergency economic injury disaster loans (EIDL).
- Health care provider funding for preparedness and response providing grants to eligible hospitals, public entities, non-for-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributed to COVID-19.
The SBA has up to 15 days from the passage of the Act to issue guidance on how you can apply to receive small business loans and grants but, if you qualify, you can apply for an EIDL now. It is important that you start gathering your financial information now to expedite things once the application processes and eligibility criteria are released. To assist you, the AAFP has created a Related Loss Calculator and an entire webpage dedicated to financial relief for family physicians.