COVID-19 doesn’t require end-run around scope-of-practice laws

The AMA and 78 physician organizations are urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to step back on a memo encouraging all VA medical facilities to let certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) practice without physician oversight during the COVID-19 national health emergency.

The issue goes beyond CRNAs, however. An April VA directive memorializes VA policy to let health professionals in 32 specialties practice across state lines and encourages facilities to allow health professionals to practice within the full scope of their license, registration or certification. The letter urges the VA to amend the directive to defer to state scope-of-practice laws.

“This combination in effect circumvents state scope of practice laws for the 32 health care professionals defined in the directive. Such a far-reaching expansion is overly broad, unnecessary and threatens the health and safety of patients within the VA system,” says the letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

Another new one this week for the AMA. The whole shebang.

Drafting error could mean 21% tax hit on CARES Act relief funds

The AMA and many other stakeholders in health care are urging Congress to rectify an apparent CARES Act drafting error that, if left unaddressed, could mean that entities receiving relief funds under the legislation might have to pay taxes on the money they got from the government.

Organizations representing nurses, dentists, hospitals, optometrists, physical therapists and hospices  joined the AMA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others in asking Congress “to clarify and correct” what they “believe are the unintentional tax consequences of policies meant to provide vital funding to health care providers through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) and other programs as part of the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.

CPT code approved for SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing

The AMA Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) Editorial Panel has adopted a new CPT code to report antigen testing of patients suspected of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The code joins other COVID-19 testing codes already approved by the CPT Editorial Panel, an independent body convened by the AMA that has the sole authority to expedite the review of proposed changes and additions to the CPT code set.

“The new CPT code for antigen testing to detect the coronavirus is the latest in a series of CPT codes developed in rapid response to the pandemic,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “Moving quickly during this crisis to meet the medical coding needs of the health care industry has enhanced the reporting of innovative tools now available to advance medicine’s overarching goals of reducing the COVID-19 disease burden, improving health outcomes and reducing long-term care costs.”

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.