Here's What the ACC is Telling the Administration and Members of Congress Regarding COVID-19

Last week, ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, met with President Trump, Vice President Pence and other 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. ACC leaders have been hard at work carrying these same messages to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and members of Congress.

In a March 19 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leaders Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy and Charles Schumer, the ACC called for increased resources to help bolster the supply chain of life-saving equipment, such as ventilators; increased resources for PPE – including N95 masks, sterile gloves, and surgical gowns; additional support from the federal government to ensure aggressive implementation of telehealth management, including alignment with private payers and the ability to care for patients across state lines; and reasonable liability protections for those on the front lines addressing an overwhelming crisis with limited supplies and protective gear. The letter also strongly urges congressional leaders to include economic support for medical practices and institutions to help them weather this crisis as they appropriately limit noncritical services.

The College also signed onto a joint letter with the American Medical Association that echoed these messages, saying: "The undersigned organizations urge 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."

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 on March 24. The call provided a forum for over 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 summarized the approach his practice is taking to telehealth and patient triage. In his remarks, Victor vocalized the concerns of ACC members around the need for telehealth flexibility, particularly a waiver of video requirements, and consistent guidance and support for practices for the duration of this public health emergency.

ACC members can help continue to carry these messages forward by emailing members of Congress directly. Already, roughly 6,000 cardiovascular clinicians have taken action, to date.

Clinical Topics: COVID-19 Hub

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S., Coronavirus, COVID-19, Telemedicine, Emergency Service, Hospital, Surgical Attire

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