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).
The AMA is listening to physicians and will continue to channel their collective voices into action.
- Sign-On letter to Acting Homeland Secretary and the Deputy Directory of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (PDF) speaking out strongly against a policy of forcing immigrant families at the border to choose between remaining indefinitely detained with their children or relinquishing custody of their children and being separated. This issue has heightened urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
- Letters to Representatives Schrier, Roe, Morelle and Van Drew (PDF) and Senator Tina Smith (PDF) expressing support for the passage of the “Health Care at Home Act” which expands coverage for telehealth services for health plans regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
- 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.
- 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.
- Letter to Representative Carolyn Maloney voicing the AMA’s strong support for H.R. 6720 the “Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act.”
- Letter to Reps Schneider, Finkenauer, Cole and Bacon urging the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act which would enable 15,000 physicians to join the frontlines as quickly as possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Letter to the National Governors Association, National Council of Insurance Legislators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners urging policy changes to ensure that patients will have immediate and long-term access to their physicians. AMA urges every state to adopt telehealth policies that reflect what is being required under Medicare, grace periods and other continuity of coverage policies and asks that immediate steps be taken to prevent insurers' administrative requirements from delaying care and payment and undercutting practice resources.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Statement from AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, MA on PPE urging federal coordination to ensure manufacturing facilities operate at maximum capacity and to create a national tracking system for the acquisition and distribution of critical PPE supplies.
- Health care highlights of provisions secured in the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" (CARES Act) (PDF) offer physician practices access to the Small Business Administration's Payroll Protection Program, $10 billion in emergency loans, limitation on liability for volunteer health care professionals and a $100 billion fund to provide immediate relief by covering non-reimbursable expenses attributable to COVID-19.
- 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.
- Encouraged the DoS and DHS to open visa processing at embassies and consulates worldwide for physicians seeking to enter the U.S. to join residency programs in July 2020.
- Urged extensions and changes of status for foreign national doctors (PDF) currently in the U.S. be expedited so that the physician workforce can be expanded to meet the challenge of fighting COVID-19.
- AMA, AHA, ANA issued open letter urging public to #StayHome to confront COVID-19.
- 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.
- 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.
- Petitioned CMS Administrator Seema Verma for CPT code clarification in light of COVID-19 with remote physiologic monitoring and telephone evaluation and management.
- 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.
- In a joint letter told the federal government what actions are needed to tackle PPE supply issues.
- Asked for $100 billion for front line health care workers to preserve practices and allow them to continue providing care.
- Called on Vice President Mike Pence for efforts to expand manufacturing and production of PPEs needed to ensure the health security of frontline personnel.
- 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.
- 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.