American College of Cardiology Foundation

04/07/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/07/2020 16:27

ACC Advocacy in Action: Summary of Ongoing Efforts to Protect Clinicians and Patients During COVID-19

The ACC continues to stress the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies to enable caregivers to safely help patients on the front lines, along with continued telehealth flexibility; liability protection for clinicians during this public health emergency; and essential support for the medical workforce, practices, and institutions to maintain patient access. ACC leaders have been hard at work carrying these same messages to the president and vice president, the administration and members of Congress. Highlights of these activities are below:

April 6: The ACC endorsed a statement from the American Society of Echocardiography that provides guidance to protect patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

April 6: The College wrote to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar II to request quick and direct disbursement of 'necessary Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund resources to eligible health care providers, including specialty and multi-specialty practices.'

April 2: The ACC joined with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) and its member societies to issue a statement that advocates for 'action to ensure safer working conditions for physicians and other [health care] professionals on the [front lines] of direct patient care.'

March 30: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a broad package of flexibility, further loosening telehealth requirements, streamlining coverage and quality standards, and waiving several compliance activities to allow clinicians to best care for patients during the public health emergency, as recommended by the ACC and other stakeholders.

March 30: The ACC joined with the American Heart Association and 11 other cardiovascular and health care society leaders on a joint statement expressing concern 'over the critical shortages of medical equipment, including ventilators, test kits and all types of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields and gowns, to adequately address the COVID-19 public health crisis.'

March 27: The third COVID-19 emergency response bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, included significant funding and flexibility recommend by the ACC to address equipment and workflow gaps to protect the public and clinicians who care for patients.

March 25: The College signed onto a joint letter with the American Medical Association that urged 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. Specifically, the legislation should support and sustain physicians and their practices during this unprecedented national emergency through tax relief, no-interest loans, direct payments, payment for virtual visits including phone calls, and other measures.'

March 24: Members of ACC's Health Affairs Committee and other leaders joined in a call with CMS Administrator Seema Verma to offer insights from providers on the front lines. The call provided a forum for more than 5,000 participants to share best practices and addressed critical topics like triaging patients, telehealth and workforce issues. Mark F. Victor, MD, FACC, was called upon by the administrator and vocalized the concerns of ACC members around the need for telehealth flexibility and consistent guidance and support for practices for the duration of this public health emergency.

March 19: In a letter to Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer, the ACC called for increased resources to help bolster the supply chain of lifesaving equipment, such as ventilators; increased resources for PPE; additional support from the federal government to ensure aggressive implementation of telehealth management; and reasonable liability protections for those on the front lines addressing an overwhelming crisis with limited supplies and protective gear. The letter also strongly urged congressional leaders to include economic support for medical practices and institutions to help them weather this crisis as they appropriately limit noncritical services.

March 18: ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, met with President Trump, Vice President Pence and health care leaders. Kovacs stressed the need for more personal protection equipment and COVID-19 tests, continued support for telehealth, clarity on liability, and more and better data from which to model the effect and duration of the pandemic.

March 17: CMS announced new flexibility to provide Medicare Telehealth services to beneficiaries regardless of originating site location, an important and incremental step to mitigate spread.

March 2: The ACC and the American College of Physicians urged policymakers to expand telehealth solutions as a mechanism to enhance social distancing and prevent community spread. Authority to waive some telehealth restrictions are included in the first COVID-19 emergency response bill on March 6.

Keywords:Coronavirus, COVID-19, Medicare, Public Health, Workflow, Caregivers, Pandemics, Medicaid, Coronavirus Infections

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