Many veterinary practices face extraordinary financial pressures during the outbreak of COVID-19. At this time, Congressional lawmakers have built (and the Senate has passed) several stimulus and relief bills. The latest of these is a $2 trillion stimulus bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and many veterinary practices are now asking how this legislation may help them. I would like to share my interpretation of the measures presented in the latest and preceding bills and how I believe this bill will provide relief to veterinary practices.
The legislation includes general provisions relevant for veterinary practices, such as making loans available for organizations with fewer than 500 employees, which may be forgivable in qualifying circumstances. Employers may also be eligible to delay the 6.2% employer payroll tax due between April 2020 and December 31, 2020, deferring payment over two years, to 50% by December 2021 and the remaining 50% by December 2022.
It is my personal interpretation and opinion that the thus-far introduced measures may be very helpful in the response to COVID-19. However, this does not provide permanent financial relief for lost revenues derived from decreased patient visits for veterinary practices. Many of the measures above provide for improvements in cash availability and cash flow timing (loans and advances or accelerated payments). Many practices may be playing financial “catch up” for months or years to come unless they take decisive action now to take advantage of the specific measures above.
PetTracks made telehealth software available to our providers as quickly as possible, and we are exerting great effort to make meaningful software integration updates for this functionality in the days and weeks to come. As states continue to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis, guidelines are consistently changing on utilizing telemedicine for veterinary services. Some, but not all, states are temporarily not requiring an in-person exam to establish a VCPR. The AVMA is frequently updating a spreadsheet focusing on COVID-19 state orders and provisions to ensure your practice is compliant.
Many of the above listed measures provide for improvements in cash availability and cash flow timing (loans and advances or accelerated payments). However, many veterinary practices may still be playing financial “catch up” for months or years to come, unless they are so fortunate as to receive loan forgiveness which is certainly not guaranteed. Tools such as telehealth can help your practice immediately and allow you provide quality care for pets. We are with you and will continue to communicate changes as they are announced.
– Ben Scharfe, PetTracks
Ben Scharfe is a CPA, CA who has been with Harris Healthcare for over five years and is currently a member of the PetTracks leadership team.