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Biden's $1.9 trillion plan could help lighten COVID-19 backlogs

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The pandemic delayed patients' preventive screenings and elective procedures, which ASCs experienced firsthand. Some ASC leaders think President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief law could help mitigate those losses.

Eugenio Hernandez, MD, the vice president of clinical affairs of Miami-based Gastro Health, spoke with Becker's ASC Review on how President Biden's relief plan might help mitigate backlogs, but it hinges on the course of the pandemic. 

President Biden's relief plan increases health insurance subsidies to those who were already eligible through state and federal marketplaces. It also extends benefits to individuals based on income levels and expands Medicaid programs.

The relief plan could help alleviate losses in colorectal cancer screening procedures, for example, which dropped over 80 percent in the early stages of the pandemic. 

"It would be reasonable to expect that these measures would increase the demand for healthcare services, including procedures performed at ASCs," Dr. Hernandez said. "Due to delays in preventive and elective procedures, there is a significant backlog that may be reduced as a result of these benefits."

Many patients, however, remain uncomfortable visiting healthcare facilities, and others may not be able to afford taking time away from work.

"Although an influx of newly insured individuals along with increased benefits to those already insured would be expected to drive more volume at ASCs, it remains to be seen how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect this dynamic," he said.

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