In the past few months, due to COVID-19, the College has taken the below measures to continue being the voice in cardiovascular medicine. Highlights are below as well as action steps members may take.
The Health Affairs Committee sent a letter to Congressthis week recommending that the 4th COVID-19 emergency stimulus package accommodate these priorities:
Address the ongoing critical need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
Promote the financial stability of medical practices:
Remove the 25% cap on the use of PPP funds to cover overhead expenses;
Accommodate flexibility needed to pay vendors to maintain solvency while protecting the current workforce;
Develop broader access to reliable testing;
Mandate payment parity between telephone evaluation and office visits by decoupling newly-enacted telehealth flexibilities from the “declared national emergency;”
Broaden clinician liability protections;
Encourage CMS to pressure Medicare Advantage plans to waive prior authorization requirements;
Delay/relax administrative program requirements, including the Appropriate Use Criteria program, Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, and interoperability and data blocking changes.
The themes of liability protection and suspension of prior authorization have been further amplified by State Affairs’ local advocacy efforts:
ACC joined the Regulatory Relief coalition, an alliance of national medical societies, in urging State GovernorsandInsurance Commissionersto suspend prior authorization for all procedures during the national emergency;
ACC has monitored state approaches to liability protections for clinicians, with notable models in Rhode Island(provided courtesy of Dr. Athena Poppas) which by executive order has deemed all health care workers “disaster response workers”, shielding them from most malpractice actions during the crisis, and Mississippi(provided courtesy of Dr. Thad Waites), which has enacted similar safeguards;
Late last month, a letterfrom Health and Human Services Secretary Azar went out to State Governors, urging the expansion of scope of practice for health care providers during the pandemic. State Affairs will be monitoring closely to follow the implications of this for the workforce both now, and as efforts to contain the virus progress toward the new normal.
Here’s how you and your Chapter can help with these efforts:
A Grass Roots Advocacy update went out recently with a linkallowing communication with your Senators in support of the HAC’s priorities. Please disseminate to your colleagues, and emphasize the importance of making our voices heard on these important issues;
Approach your State Governors and reinforce the importance of suspending prior authorization during the crisis, as outlined in the Regulatory Relief Coalition letter. This has been an important priority of the BOG’s Advocacy Task Force, and the time is right to roll back this burdensome barrier to care;
Using the Rhode Island executive orderas a model, consider approaching your Governor or legislature about the suspension of liability for health care providers during the pandemic;
Know your contact from ACC’s State Government Affairs, and coordinate with one another – they are your link to the College’s grassroots infrastructure.
The Chapters provide the College with a national network to amplify and execute its advocacy priorities on the local level. We also can provide vital information to each other about what is happening in our states, either to emulate best practices, or to guard against concerning trends. As we negotiate the COVID-19 crisis in the lead-up to Legislative Conference in the fall, developing a robust architecture for state advocacy will be key to weathering the pandemic, and beyond. Look for an invitation to participate in a WebEx with a selected subset of your BOG colleagues within the next few months to develop strategies for nurturing this vital grass roots network, and strengthening our relationship with State Affairs.
Florida Chapter, American College of Cardiology
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