As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread throughout the United States, small businesses are struggling. Social distancing, which appears to be slowing the pandemic, is also having the unfortunate side effect of slowing sales. Fewer customers walking through their doors has led to sales declines at brick-and-mortar locations. And online retailers aren’t immune from the effects, as financial strain on most Americans leads to fewer purchases overall. Many healthcare practices are also feeling the pain. With patients canceling appointments and fewer nonurgent appointments on the books, the narrow margins most practices operate under are slimming further by the day. “Thousands of frontline primary care practices, already strapped for cash, are facing these wrenching decisions as part of a new financial crisis generated by the novel coronavirus advancing across the US,” says a healthcare finance report from Healthcare Dive. While telehealth solutions can provide partial relief, it’s clear that most private healthcare practices face serious challenges directly tied to the coronavirus outbreak. "We are seeing huge cuts in our revenue right now," physician Beverly Jordan explains in the same report. "We are working really hard to keep our employees employed. We are working really hard to keep our doors open. But we are having to monitor that bottom line." When just one private healthcare practice goes out of business, the surrounding community suffers. But when you consider that the majority of physicians work in such practices, the scale of the crisis comes into sharper view. How the CARES Act Impacts Caregivers The federal government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to deliver more than $2 trillion in relief to millions of small business owners. When the first round of funding ran out, a second round was approved. Here are 6 key components relevant to healthcare practices: \tPublic Health and Social Services Emergency Fund: Provides $100 billion to aid private practices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. The money is intended to go toward the expense of treating patients with COVID-19 and also helping those who have seen revenue slide during the crisis. \tPaycheck Protection Program (PPP): Connects you with as much as $10 million to help you handle payroll-related expenses. The money can be used for things such as insurance premiums, paid sick and medical leave, employee salaries, mortgage and rent payments, or utility payments. \tMedicare Program Updates: The CARES Act also includes favorable changes to Medicare, which could dramatically benefit private practices. These updates include temporarily suspending the 2% Medicare sequester, allowance for advanced payments, and greater coverage for telehealth. \tSBA Express Bridge Loan: These loans are intended to provide expedited cash to help business owners address immediate needs. The dollar amounts go up to $25,000. \tSBA Debt Relief: The SBA 7(a) program is popular for medical practices, and this debt relief enables the SBA to pay your principal and interest on SBA 7(a) loans that fund after September 25 of this year. If you already have an SBA 7(a) loan, you could get the principal and interest paid for a 6-month period. \tEconomic Injury and Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Loan Advance: This federal disaster loan program provides as much as $2 million to help you cover business expenses. You can also apply for an advance of $10,000 on the loan to help with urgent needs. What You Should Do Next While the CARES Act has injected our national economy with record-breaking funds, a vast number of businesses will seek to get their share of it. Start now by assessing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on your business, then gather the necessary documentation to back up your claims. As you review the various programs included in the CARES Act, look for those that are relevant to your healthcare practice. The sooner you can apply for relief, the better. The SBA is notorious for its time-consuming applications and lengthy processing timelines, so make it a top priority to get the ball rolling. There’s more good news potentially on the horizon, as additional financial relief from the federal government is being considered. “Less than a week after President Trump signed a $2 trillion aid package for the response to COVID-19, House Democratic leaders announced plans to develop a 4th COVID-19 supplemental funding bill,” reports America’s Essential Hospitals. “Media reports suggest this 4th legislative package could include measures to enhance protections for healthcare workers. The timing of this legislation is unknown, as both chambers are out of session until April 20.” Even with these recent developments, you shouldn’t wait for more relief programs to be announced. By locking down the best relief programs for your practice and taking decisive action on the applications, you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to survive this crisis and thrive in the future. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information when a story is published, the coronavirus pandemic and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have caused details to change at a rapid pace. Additional guidance from the government may change or clarify certain aspects of the forgiveness process and could result in changes to the information contained in these pages. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the COVID-19 section of our website. For more information, you can call us at (855) 853-6346. Lendio is not responsible for and provides no warranty as to the accuracy of this content. Lendio does not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. The information and services Lendio provides should not be deemed a substitute for the advice of such professionals who can better address your specific concern and situation.