CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) today announced three new resources for private-practice physicians in response to the unique operational and business challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources build on previous AMA efforts to ensure physicians and their practices have the latest, up-to-date information and resources necessary to navigate the changing landscape of COVID-19.
“The AMA is laser-focused on ensuring the viability of physicians’ practices that are being impacted by the pandemic and will continue providing tools and resources and aggressively advocating on their behalf,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “We launched the AMA’s COVID-19 resource center to serve as a hub for physicians to find information to meet the daily challenges of managing a practice during the pandemic as well as the latest evidence-based guidance for treating patients.”
The AMA’s new resources assist in the nation-wide response to COVID-19. These resources include:
1. A guide for keeping private practice physicians in business
The AMA released a new financial checklist that provides physicians and administrators with high-level guidance and 14 practical tips for keeping medical practices in business during this public health crisis. Tips include: implementing a process for rapid decision-making and planning; understanding your insurance coverage; making a financial contingency plan; consolidating administrative resources like coding tools; and utilizing digital health tools.
Also provided are two non-jurisdiction specific template letters for physician practices that designate medical practice employees as essential to the COVID-19 response and allow for travel between work and home when states issue emergency orders restricting travel.
2. Recommendations to help private practices navigate non-essential care
This new AMA resource gives guidance to support physicians and practices in developing policies and procedures to triage non-urgent patient requests appropriately which is critical for private practice physicians who are currently facing new and unfamiliar challenges in safely delivering care to non-urgent patients. The eight recommendations are intended to help physicians preserve staff, PPE, patient care supplies, ensure staff and patient safety, and prudently use hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Updates to the Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice
The AMA continues to update its Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice, a resource designed to help mobilize remote care with implementation tips, as well as a reference to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for reporting telemedicine and remote care services. The most recent updates include the STEPS Forward™ module on Telemedicine which is designed to facilitate better access to care for patients.
Meanwhile, the AMA also highlighted several measures in the new government stimulus bill that can help physicians in private practice:
- A new loan product within the Small Business Administration for loans of up to $10 million to help cover payroll and overhead costs, with expanded loan forgiveness criteria. Physician practices with not more than 500 employees may qualify.
- $100 billion in direct financial support to physician practices, hospitals, and other health care providers under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This support is for costs of treating COVID-19 patients as well as to ease the financial impact on those who lose revenue due reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic. Exact eligibility criteria and application process is not yet defined pending implementation.
- Suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester in May through December 2020.
- Limitations on liability for volunteer health care professionals during COVID-19 emergency response.
- A temporary waiver of the face-to-face visit requirement with home dialysis patients.
- Authority for the Secretary of HHS to waive telehealth coverage requirements for new patients during a national emergency. Previous legislation provided flexibility only for established patients seen within the past three years.
- Secretary of HHS will also allow for enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.
“Physician practices are being hard-hit by the pandemic, which is threatening the sustainability of practices and could reduce access to care,” added Harris. “We are urging the Administration to expedite the creation of programs included in the stimulus legislation to enable the dissemination of financial support to meet the urgent need facing many physician practices.”
The AMA will help increase awareness of these initiatives when additional details from the government are available. The AMA will also continue to release additional information and resources in response to the urgent public health crisis to support physicians and the patients they care for.
Robert J. Mills
ph: (312) 464-5970
About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.