AMA resources for private practice physicians during COVID-19

March 30, 2020

The American Medical Association announces new resources for private practice physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed three new resources to support private practice physicians amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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These resources offer information that will help physicians navigate the business and operational hurdles caused by the pandemic, and include a financial checklist, recommendations on non-urgent patient care and updates to the Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice, according to a press release.

The financial checklist features 14 tips to help keep practices in business, including how to execute a process for quick decision-making, understand insurance coverage, develop a financial contingency plan and more. Also included are two non-jurisdiction specific template letters to designate medical employees as essential to permit travel between home and work in states with emergency travel restrictions.

Additionally, in an effort to help private practices administer care safely, preserve staff and patient care supplies and judiciously use hospital capacity, AMA provides eight guidelines to triage patients with non-urgent needs.

The AMA’s Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice resource center offers tips for implementing remote care services, and includes a reference for Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes to report those services.

“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,” says Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A., AMA President. “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.

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In addition to the new resources, the AMA is brining attention to the passage of the $2 trillion government stimulus bill by the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes numerous measures that can assist private practice physicians.

The measures include:

  •  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.

* This list originally appeared in the press release posted onwww.ama-assn.org.

“Physician practices are being hard-hit by the pandemic, which is threatening the sustainability of practices and could reduce access to care,” says Dr. 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.”

References:

AMA announces private practice resources during COVID-19 pandemic. American Medical Association. https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-announces-private-practice-resources-during-covid-19-pandemic. Published March 27, 2020. Accessed March 27, 2020.