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April 22, 2020
Congress Answers CAP’s Requests for More Funding to Support Pathologists, Laboratories
Responding to calls for additional economic assistance, congressional leaders agreed to a $484 billion spending package to replenish a depleted small business loan program and cover necessary expenses to expand capacity for COVID-19 tests. On April 21, the Senate passed the bill by a voice vote and members of the House of Representatives are poised to approve the legislation on Thursday, which would then move the bill to President Donald Trump who has pledged to sign the bill quickly into law.
In its pursuit to protect the financial viability of pathology practices and the laboratories pathologists lead, the CAP—in concert with the American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical College, and multiple specialty societies advocating for the physicians and providers they represent—had urged Congress to provide greater economic assistance, especially since a prominent loan program recently ran out of funds.
The CAP strongly supports the legislation, entitled the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, as it answers our requests for financial relief to make up for revenue shortfalls affecting pathology practices across the country. On April 8, the CAP had called for Congress to add more funds to the Paycheck Protection Program. The CAP followed up notifying congressional leaders with a letter requesting greater economic relief on April 14. The CAP also signed on to letters led by the AMA, several specialty organizations, and state medical societies asking Congress to support the viability of physician practices.
In addition, the CAP also partnered with multiple specialty societies and met with the House Small Business Committee to advocate for more support for physician practices.
Small Business Programs
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act includes the following changes to financial assistance programs available to small businesses:
- An additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
- An additional $10 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants.
- An additional $50 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) EIDL Program Account.
Listen to a CAPcast with Jonathan Myles, MD, FCAP, chair of the CAP’s Council on Government and Professional Affairs, who reviewed assistance programs available to pathologists. With new funds coming back to small business programs, we urge pathologists in need of financial assistance to apply for loans to ease burdens your practices face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Care Provisions
The new legislation also provides a $100 billion to support hospitals, physicians, and other providers. These moneys include:
- $75 billion for health care providers to be distributed by HHS.
- $25 billion for research, development, validation, and expanding capacity for COVID-19 tests.
- This includes $11 billion for states and localities to scale up laboratory capacity—of which $4.25 billion would be allocated based on COVID-19 cases.
- It also includes $22 million for the Food and Drug Administration to support activities associated with diagnostic, serological, antigen, and other tests, and related administrative activities.
- $1 billion is included for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity expansion, public health data surveillance, and analytics infrastructure.
The legislation would require states to plan for how resources will be used for testing and easing community restrictions or social distancing policies.