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Federal Advocacy

COVID-19 Response

Update as of May 1, 2020

Dear PaACC Members:

Great news!! 

Your ACC - specifically the Health Affairs Committee(HAC) - continues to diligently work hand-in-hand with federal administrators, legislators, and staff. In concert with our sister societies, we have advocated for many things on the basis of both patients as well as health care providers during this COVID-19 crisis.

This afternoon CMS posted another interim final rule with comment period (IFC) that grants additional flexibilities for clinicians and facilities to respond to COVID-19. A short summary has been posted to acc.org here. ACC HAC staff continue to dig through the nearly 300 pages, but want to highlight up front the increase in payment for the telephone codes 99441-99443 to parity with existing patient office visits 99212-99214. That is identical to the recommendation we made previously with ACP and others, and a big win for you who are taking care of patients who can’t access video telehealth.

The summary on acc.orgCMS press release, and updated fact sheets have additional details on other proposals.

We continue to advocate passionately both on the federal and state levels. We WILL need YOUR help to get some state initiatives accomplished in the coming weeks... but for now let's enjoy this victory - for both patients and health care providers.

Andrew R. Waxler, MD, FACC
President, PaACC
Governor, ACC, representing Eastern Pennsylvania

The Health Affairs Committee sent a letter to Congress this week recommending that the 4th COVID-19 emergency stimulus package accommodate these priorities:

  • Address the ongoing critical need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • Promote the financial stability of medical practices:
  • Remove the 25% cap on the use of PPP funds to cover overhead expenses;
  • Accommodate flexibility needed to pay vendors to maintain solvency while protecting the current workforce;
  • Develop broader access to reliable testing;
  • Mandate payment parity between telephone evaluation and office visits by decoupling newly-enacted telehealth flexibilities from the “declared national emergency;”
  • Broaden clinician liability protections;
  • Encourage CMS to pressure Medicare Advantage plans to waive prior authorization requirements;
  • Delay/relax administrative program requirements, including the Appropriate Use Criteria program, Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, and interoperability and data blocking changes.

The themes of liability protection and suspension of prior authorization have been further amplified by State Affairs’ local advocacy efforts:

  • ACC joined the Regulatory Relief coalition, an alliance of national medical societies, in urging State Governors and Insurance Commissioners to suspend prior authorization for all procedures during the national emergency;
  • ACC has monitored state approaches to liability protections for clinicians, with notable models in Rhode Island (provided courtesy of Dr. Athena Poppas) which by executive order has deemed all health care workers “disaster response workers”, shielding them from most malpractice actions during the crisis, and Mississippi (provided courtesy of Dr. Thad Waites), which has enacted similar safeguards;
  • Late last month, a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Azar went out to State Governors, urging the expansion of scope of practice for health care providers during the pandemic.  State Affairs will be monitoring closely to follow the implications of this for the workforce both now, and as efforts to contain the virus progress toward the new normal.

Here’s how you and your Chapter can help with these efforts:

  • A Grass Roots Advocacy update went out recently with a link allowing communication with your Senators in support of the HAC’s priorities.   Please disseminate to your colleagues, and emphasize the importance of making our voices heard on these important issues;
  • Approach your State Governors and reinforce the importance of suspending prior authorization during the crisis, as outlined in the Regulatory Relief Coalition letter.  This has been an important priority of the BOG’s Advocacy Task Force, and the time is right to roll back this burdensome barrier to care;
  • Using the Rhode Island executive order as a model, consider approaching your Governor or legislature about the suspension of liability for health care providers during the pandemic;
  • Know your contact from ACC’s State Government Affairs, and coordinate with one another – they are your link to the College’s grassroots infrastructure.

The Chapters provide the College with a national network to amplify and execute its advocacy priorities on the local level.  We also can provide vital information to each other about what is happening in our states, either to emulate best practices, or to guard against concerning trends.  As we negotiate the COVID-19 crisis in the lead-up to Legislative Conference in the fall, developing a robust architecture for state advocacy will be key to weathering the pandemic, and beyond.  Look for an invitation to participate in a WebEx with a selected subset of your BOG colleagues within the next few months to develop strategies for nurturing this vital grass roots network, and strengthening our relationship with State Affairs. 

First and foremost, legislators need to hear from physicians in order to make accurate and informed decisions about health care. Specifically, when considering legislation that affects the daily practice of cardiology, there is no better resource for a legislator to have than the clinical knowledge and insight of YOU, their cardiologist constituents.

CORONAVIRUS AND YOUR HEART: DON'T IGNORE HEART SYMPTOMS

ACC CardioSmart recently published the infographic below to emphasize the importance of maintaining heart health through the epidemic. Click here for additional information.

Heart Health during COVID-19 graphic


What other ways can you get involved? 

Member participation in advocacy efforts is crucial to shaping the future of cardiology. Find out how you can make a difference by visiting ACC.org/Advocacy.

Contact Your Legislators

Do you know your Pennsylvania legislators or have a working relationship with key decision makers? Contact them, reach out to them to offer your expertise! 

Protect Your Professional Interests!

Donate to the ACC PAC Today! 

The ACC PAC is one component of the ACC advocacy effort and is the most important ACC presence in the federal legislative arena. The PAC needs ongoing support from all Pennsylvania Chapter members to be effective. Our strongest adversaries are organized, know how important participation in the political process is, and achieve high levels of participation when it comes to donating to their PACs.


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Pennsylvania Chapter, American College of Cardiology

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