Public Health

COVID-19: Advocacy Progress Report

Updated May 22, 2020

The AMA is fighting every day to remove the obstacles physicians face while confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following AMA actions have been taken to help frontline personnel, practices and hospitals, including an urgent appeal to the administration for more supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).

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Track the evolving situation with the AMA's library of the most up-to-date resources from JAMA, CDC and WHO.

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The AMA is listening to physicians and will continue to channel their collective voices into action.

May 21

May 20

May 15

  • Letter to House leadership expressing support for the many provisions in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) that provide stability for physician practices and promote public health by enabling physicians to continue caring for patients during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
  • Letter to Representatives Schneider, King, Sewell and Davis and Letter to Senators Shaheen and Bennet thanking them for introducing the Medicare Accelerated and Advance payments Improvement Act of 2020 which ensures that once the immediate public health emergency has passed there is still a stable, accessible and physician practice-based health system in place that can administer quality care.

May 14

  • Sign-on letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging the agency to make policy and regulatory revisions that would help the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) achieve the long-term sustainability necessary to enhance care coordination and lower the growth rate of health care spending while improving quality of care.

May 11

May 8

May 4

  • Letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging the administration to allow J-1, H-1B and O-1 International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to be exempt from any future immigration bans or limitations so that these physicians can maintain their lawful non-immigrant status while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sign-on letter to Congressional Leadership the AMA alongside 77 other medical associations urging Congress to take regulatory or legislative action to maintain work authorization for individuals currently in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status during the COVID-19 national emergency.

April 28

  • Letter to Congressional leadership the AMA, alongside 31 other groups, is calling on Congress to take immediate action to support employers and workers by protecting and expanding high quality, affordable health care coverage.
  • Letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging the agency to quickly reinstate the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program (AAP) and to specifically authorize advance payments or retainer payments by state Medicaid programs to provide critically needed funds to Medicaid physicians, clinicians and other providers and suppliers.

April 27

  • Letter to the Assistant Secretary for Health making recommendations on diagnostic and serological COVID-19 tests and recommending that the Administration provide physicians and the general public additional guidance about the performance and limitations of these tests including the risks for false positives

April 20

  • Letter to National Governors Association calling on governors to adopt broader civil immunity to remove barriers for physicians responding to the call to action in areas experiencing a surge in COVID-19 patients.

April 17

  • Letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking them to clarify the proper use of the United States International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) codes, citing concerns that the current coding schema is insufficient to fully identify all patients who have become ill from COVID-19.

April 16

  • Letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging the department to use its existing authority to address disparities in the federal response to COVID-19 including increasing the availability of testing, ensuring access to equitable treatment and disseminating timely, relevant and culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive public health information.

April 15

  • Letter to Congressional leadership AMA along with all state medical associations and 89 national medical specialty societies wrote to Congress as members consider a “phase four” coronavirus relief legislative package urging them to take additional steps to protect patient access to care by preserving the viability of physician practices.
  • Letter to Eugene Scalia, Secretary U.S. Department of Labor urging the department to issue guidance to Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) health plans to expand the use of telemedicine during this pandemic. It is critical that telemedicine, as a means to allowing patients to safely access covered care during this emergency, is available to all. Medicare and many states have taken action to expand access and the AMA is urging the DOL to help push ERISA plans to catch up.

April 13

  • Letter to FEMA urging the creation of a national system for acquisition of PPE as well as a system of distribution managed by the federal government so that a healthy physician workforce can be maintained in both hospital and laboratory settings.
  • Letter to the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use (SAMHSA) urging SAMHSA to provide increased flexibility for physicians treating patients with an opioid use disorder by allowing them to satisfy the in-person evaluation requirement via telemedicine for the duration of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

April 10

April 8

  • Sign-on letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging CMS to provide payment parity between telehealth visits and regular office visits and provide guidance to Medicare Administrative Contractors to ensure that recent CMS guidance and rules are followed appropriately to enable the payment of telephone E/M claims.

April 7

  • Letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging HHS to provide one month of revenue to each physician (MD or DO), nurse practitioner and physician assistant enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid to account for financial losses and non-reimbursable expenses during the COVID-19 response.

April 3

  • Letter to the National Governor's Association AMA wrote to the National Governors Association (NGA) regarding state emergency orders to close non-essential businesses, limit non-essential activities and prohibit gatherings during this critical stage of conducting a uniform national response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Letter to Mike Pence and Acting Director Kenneth Cuccinelli urging the administration to permit international medical graduate (IMG) physicians to serve at multiple locations and facilities to provide greater access to health care for millions of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sign-on letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar imploring HHS agencies to coordinate comprehensive collection and public dissemination of COVID-19 testing, hospitalizations and mortality rates by race and ethnicity and patients' preferred spoken and written language.

April 1

  • Statement from AMA President Dr. Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA backing physician freedom to advocate for patient interests during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patient welfare should be the first priority in any situation where the interests of physicians and hospitals are in conflict. No employer should restrict physicians' freedom to advocate for the best interest of their patients.

March 31

  • Statement from AMA President Dr. Patrice A Harris, MD, MA supporting the health care workforce using their own personal protective equipment (PPE) if critical supplies cannot be provided to them due to a dire shortage.
  • Letter to Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon asking that the DEA maintain a policy of rapid flexible annual production quota allocations for the duration of the declared national emergency so that supportive controlled substances (CII) which are used to ventilate patients safely and effectively do not become scarce.

March 30

  • Statement from AMA President Patrice A Harris, MD, MA applauding the administration's efforts to cut red tape and finding immediate solutions that increase capacity and ensure access to care in every patient setting. This includes addressing Medicare coverage for telephone visits, clarifying that remote monitoring can be used for acute conditions and greater telehealth coverage for emergency department visits.
  • Letter to President Trump commending the decision to extend physical distancing guidelines and urging the administration to continue following the advice of leading health and science experts to give the health care workforce a fighting chance to stop the spread of the virus.

March 28

March 27

March 26

  • New CPT guidance assists physicians and medical practices in properly reporting medical services provided to COVID-19 patients which serves to streamline communication across the health system.

March 24

March 21

  • In a joint letter to the president, requested that the Defense Production Act (DPA) be used to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment desperately needed for all front-line providers.

March 20

  • Encouraged Congress to include in the final “stimulus” legislation specific provisions to help physicians sustain their practices and provide their patients with the best possible care during the COVID-19 emergency.

March 18

March 19

  • Asked Congress to help preserve the viability of physician practices that are struggling to meet the needs of patients and staff as they confront revenue shortages through financial support, grants and interest free loans.  
  • Pressed Congress to allocate financial assistance to front line health care personnel and providers, so that they can afford to take the necessary steps to respond to this pandemic. 

March 18

March 16

March 13

  • Urged HHS to provide further clarity around testing criteria and priorities and to work quickly with community health stakeholders and physicians if the agency anticipates a shortage of PPE. 

March 12

  • Sent a joint letter to Vice President Pence requesting a national emergency be declared under the Stafford Act to help ensure availability of sufficient resources to properly respond to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.