How domestic abuse gets missed as America stays home

The stress, anxiety and fear associated with COVID-19 job losses, stay-at-home orders and physical distancing requirements can contribute to a “hidden crisis” of intimate-partner violence, child abuse and elder abuse, AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, explained in an op-ed published by NBC News.

“As a psychiatrist who specializes in the mental health of children and adolescents, and in the impact of trauma on children and adults, I know that the likelihood of child abuse rises in tandem with stress. Losing a job, facing a health crisis, grieving the loss of a relative or friend—these and other stressors can increase the risk of domestic abuse,” wrote Dr. Harris.

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How APIs can cut doctors’ administrative burdens, improve care

Recently finalized rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) may dramatically improve EHRs’ ability to exchange data and enable physicians to use apps to diagnose and treat patients.

A big part of that transformation is likely to happen through application programming interfaces (APIs), and a recent article by experts from the AMA and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ health information technology initiative explain how APIs—if used properly with clinical decision support tools—can affect physicians’ administrative burdens and improve the quality of care.

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COVID-19 job loss could leave 27 million uninsured—what to do now

Exacerbating the devastating health impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic has also exacted an economic toll, with 31 million workers filing unemployment claims in March and April. As of May 2, nearly 27 million could lose their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage following job loss. These newly uninsured have opportunities to sign up for other coverage, including those provided under the Affordable Care (ACA), says an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

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SARS-CoV-2 serology tests: 3 big limitations doctors must understand

Results from the SARS-CoV-2 serology tests that have flooded the market should not be used to make decisions by individuals, such as whether to end physical distancing.

That warning is part of new guidance from the AMA on serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and outlines three major limitations to the tests that physicians must understand to properly order them and interpret their results.

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Why COVID-19 tracking will flounder without privacy protections

Poll results show the American public has deep privacy concerns about using the tech-enabled COVID-19 tracking and tracing systems that could help limit the pandemic’s deadly toll, making the release of a document outlining the AMA’s privacy principles especially timely.

The AMA privacy principles support an individual’s right to control, access and delete personal data collected about them. Using the new privacy principles, the AMA will actively engage the administration, Congress and industry stakeholders in discussions on the future direction of regulatory guardrails that are needed to restore public confidence in data-privacy protections.

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How doctors can claim share of additional $20 billion in CARES Act aid

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has started distribution of the next $20 billion in financial relief for physician practices, groups and other health care delivery organizations that is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The relief comes under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in the CARES Act. The initial $30 billion in CARES Act relief was directed to hospitals and physician practices in direct proportion to their share of Medicare fee-for-service spending.

Payments from this  $20 billion are calculated so that a physician practice or group’s allocation from the entire $50 billion general distribution is in proportion to its 2018 net patient revenue. As detailed in an HHS fact sheet shared on the AMA website, all physician practices or groups are required to submit revenue information to the provider portal for later verification.

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Congress adds half trillion in COVID-19 relief: How to get help

Congress reconvened this week to pass a bill delivering nearly half a trillion dollars in additional funding to replenish and supplement key programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The funding will go to the Paycheck Protection Program, small business disaster loans and grants, hospitals and health care providers and testing.

The AMA, leading physician organizations and state medical societies have urged congressional leaders to protect patient access to medical care by preserving the viability of physician practices across the country.

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Amid pandemic, CMS should level field for phone E/M visits

The AMA and dozens of other physician organizations are calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide payment parity for patients who are only able to consult with their physicians by telephone and cannot or will not visit in person or conduct an audiovisual telehealth appointment using videoconferencing technology.

While key changes have been made to telehealth guidelines to boost COVID-19 care, a sign-on letter from the American College of Physicians, the AMA and many others notes that “many patients are unable to connect via telehealth with their physicians, as they may not have devices compatible to facilitate the use of telehealth.”

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AMA: States should follow 4 signposts to safely reopen America

The White House’s coronavirus task force has unveiled a three-phase approach to “opening up America again,” offering recommendations to state and local officials as they consider whether to ease the physical distancing rules that are helping to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The AMA also is weighing in with its advice on what must be in place before relaxing the stay-at-home orders that have upended American life and taken a toll on the economy yet have helped throttle the spread of the highly infectious and deadly respiratory illness.

The goal is “to minimize the risk of another surge in COVID-19 infections and to ensure our health system’s capacity to care for newly infected patients,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. “People in our country should be confident that decisions are being made with public health as the top consideration.”

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Time for FEMA to take charge and #GetUsPPE

The AMA is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to lead a national system of procuring and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE).

“This would not only provide critical clarity and reduction in administrative burden, but would also allow states and hospitals to benefit from the tremendous bargaining power of the federal government,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter to Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is heading FEMA’s Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force.

The AMA also is urging FEMA “to serve as the single national coordinator of distribution of these supplies, ensuring that states, hospitals and other facilities have one centralized agency to work through to acquire essential PPE.”

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DEA eases some controlled-substances rules during pandemic

As hospitals, clinics and health systems seek to maximize capacity in alternate care sites to deliver supportive care for patients with COVID-19, one stumbling block has been U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rules governing DEA-registered hospitals, clinics, manufacturers and distributors.

The satellite care locations may lack the DEA registration usually needed to handle controlled substances essential to critical care. Now the agency has announced it is making an exception to that requirement for the duration of the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency.

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