The AAMC sent a letter on Jan. 25 to congressional leadership outlining academic medicine’s priorities for potential omnibus and COVID-19 relief legislation. The letter was sent in anticipation of the Feb. 18 expiration of the current fiscal year (FY) 2022 continuing resolution (CR) [refer to Washington Highlights, Dec. 3, 2021].
The letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) emphasized the importance of completing work on FY 2022 appropriations. It stated that prolonged CRs undermine the work of federal agencies and jeopardize academic medicine’s missions of research, education, health care, and community collaboration.
Additionally, the letter urged leaders to extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester, which was extended in the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (P.L. 117-71) [refer to Washington Highlights, Dec. 10, 2021]. The letter requested additional flexibility on the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program — asking that Congress suspend the program’s loan repayments for six months and resume recoupment of the payments at 25% for the following 12 months.
It also emphasized the critical role of the Provider Relief Fund in “eas[ing] the financial burden that providers were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic” as they “ceased non-urgent or pre-scheduled procedures and shifted to becoming hubs for testing, treatment, and ultimately vaccination against COVID-19.” The AAMC requested an additional $25 billion be added to the fund as well as an easement of reporting requirements.
Finally, the letter urged congressional leaders to extend the telehealth and Acute Hospital Care at Home program waivers that currently are contingent on the public health emergency (PHE) declaration, until Dec. 31, 2024. The AAMC noted the importance of these waivers for ensuring access to care for patients both during and after the PHE. “AAMC members and the patients they serve have seen the benefits of these critical waivers, including expanded access to care, especially to those in rural and urban underserved areas,” the letter stated.