ACC Advocates for Practice Stability, PPE and Reliable Testing During Latest COVID-19 Relief Negotiations

As members of Congress continue negotiations over the fourth COVID-19 relief package, the ACC is advocating for a variety of important policies to support cardiovascular clinicians, their patients, and the entire health care system.

"As states across the country struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus and set records for new cases, we need our elected officials to work together to urgently address challenges posed by this unprecedented public health emergency. Health care workers are working tirelessly and courageously to help and heal patients within their communities," said ACC President Athena Poppas, MD, FACC. "We need Congress to act now and continue to support these efforts by assuring clinician and patient access to lifesaving PPE; prioritizing consistent, unbiased and reliable testing with rapid results; ensuring the financial sustainability of clinicians and medical practices; and implementing policies and programs that tangibly address the health care disparities further highlighted by the virus."

In a letter to Congressional leaders, the ACC urged action on additional resources needed for clinicians on the front lines:

  • Ensuring stability of medical practices
    • Additional funding and refinements for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Provider Relief Fund
    • Ensure the critically-needed support from the Provider Relief Fund is not subject to taxation
    • Reduce interest rates for loans through the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program while also exploring additional flexibilities such as postponing recoupment until 1 year after payment is issued or converting loans to grants
  • Telehealth
    • Provide ongoing flexibility beyond the expiration of the current PHE declaration
    • Current waivers related to addressing or mitigating geographic, originating site, and frequency restrictions should be significantly extended to provide flexibility and stability while permanent policies are designed and implemented
    • Ensure appropriate payment for various telehealth services, similar to existing in-person visits, and maintain coverage for audio-only services
  • PPE and Reliable Testing
    • Include additional resources to ensure PPE is available to clinicians currently on the frontlines
    • Take necessary steps in the near future to ensure appropriate availability of PPE can be obtained for any future national emergencies, through the shoring of up national stockpiles of PPE
    • Make funds available to prioritize consistent, unbiased, and reliable testing with rapid results, including antigen and antibody testing
  • Liability Protection
    • Congress should support inclusion of the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act (HR 7059), which would expand on the CARES Act protections for health care volunteers and offer liability protections to health care providers who are caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Prior Authorization
    • Congress should alleviate these administrative burdens where possible, including instructing Medicare Advantage plans to waive prior authorization requirements throughout the duration of the PHE and for a period of time after the PHE is lifted
    • Congress should support inclusion of the Improving Seniors' Timely Access to Care Act (HR 3107), which would streamline prior authorization practices and increase transparency and accountability in the Medicare Advantage program
  • Deferring Administrative Programs
    • Congress should temporarily halt other administrative requirements that may divert critical clinician time and energy from providing patient care during the pandemic, including Medicare Incentive Payment System (MIPS) requirements and Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC)

You can take action by reaching out your members of Congress regarding the next COVID-19 supplemental legislation and urging them to work quickly to address the challenges facing not just the medical community, but all communities in the United States.

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, COVID-19, Public Health, Telemedicine, Personal Protective Equipment


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