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.

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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.”

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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.”

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New AMA president: COVID-19 can spur positive changes in health care

Earlier this month, Susan R. Bailey, MD, became the third consecutive woman to hold the office of AMA president. Her early tenure has been eventful, and Dr. Bailey has already weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision protecting LGBTQ Americans from workplace discrimination, the need for continued vigilance against COVID-19, and more.

Dr. Bailey recently shared time to discuss her life in private practice and how the pandemic is shining a harsh new light on the administrative barriers and other obstacles that interfere with physicians’ ability to deliver high-quality care.

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As COVID-19 cases rise, no time to let guard down on prevention

The AMA is reminding American patients not to let their guard down on vigilance against the coronavirus as 21 states have reportedly seen upticks in the daily average number of new COVID-19 cases this week, compared with last week.

The seven-day average rose 92% in Alabama, for example. Other states seeing big increases in COVID-19 cases are Oregon (84% rise in seven-day average) and South Carolina, where the seven-day average rose 60%.

“In far too many states—in rural and urban locations—we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases that could lead to further illness, deaths and other potentially dangerous impacts on health systems across the country,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD.

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In COVID-19 crisis, AMA’s powerful voice rings out to save lives

 In a global pandemic that has demanded an all-hands-on-deck response, the AMA’s outstanding advocacy efforts have led to billions in emergency funding to help physician practices stay viable, secured broad telehealth expansion and telehealth payment parity, and much more.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMA has been the leading physician and patient ally—voicing recommendations to members for the president’s coronavirus task force, key congressional leaders and agency staff, state policymakers and private sector stakeholders.

In an interview with ReachMD, AMA Senior Vice President of Advocacy Todd Askew detailed the organization’s timely and effective action on personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostic testing, the financial viability of physician practices during COVID-19, and health care inequities.

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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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