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  • Coronavirus Update, March 22, 2020: CMS and US Treasury Announce Relief Measures for Clinicians

    Employers mandated to provide paid sick leave will be reimbursed, and quality reporting deadlines and requirements — including MIPS — have been relaxed.

    March 22: Feds Announce Reimbursement Program for Employers Required to Provide Leave
    The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them for the cost of providing coronavirus-related paid leave to their employees. The paid leave was mandated as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law on March 18.

    The relief measures include reimbursement for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded child care leave, with the Department of Labor asserting that the funds will be "quick and easy to obtain." Employers required to provide the leave also will be reimbursed for health insurance costs and will receive dollar-for-dollar tax offsets against payroll taxes.

    Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the paid leave requirements. The labor department will be providing guidance to more clearly articulate this standard. Employers with 500 employees or more were not required to provide leave.

    March 22: CMS Relaxes Quality Reporting Deadlines
    Clinicians and facilities participating in CMS quality reporting programs, including the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, also known as MIPS, will have more flexibility in data submission.

    For the MIPS program, 2019 data submission deadlines have been moved to April 30. The previous deadline was March 31.

    In a number of postacute care settings, including inpatient rehab, home health, long-term care, and skilled nursing facilities, April and May submissions are now optional. In addition, CMS states, "no data reflecting services provided January 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020, will be used in CMS’s calculations for the Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs." CMS also announced reporting relief measures for various hospital programs.

    Visit APTA's Coronavirus webpage for more information and updates.