The organization presents recommendations for further actions pertaining to healthcare capacity, testing, personal protective supplies, and coverage.
America’s Frontline Physicians, a group of six doctor organizations, have produced a series of recommendations for lawmakers in Washington detailing steps they can take to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe.In a March 18 news release, the organization applauded actions already taken, but urged lawmakers to do more to address healthcare capacity, testing, personal protective supplies, and coverage.“Additional action is needed to facilitate coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment and ensure sufficient access and capacity and availability of personal protection,” the release says.
•Congress, the Trump administration, and state governments should continue to assess, fund, and increase the availability of coronavirus testing.
•Congress should provide at least an additional $200 million to the Hospital Preparedness Program which provides federal funding for healthcare system readiness during emergencies and disasters.
Community health centers
•Congress should immediately authorize and appropriate funding for community health center, community mental health centers, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program which supplies care to 29 million low-income and uninsured patients. •Mandatory funding for community health centers expires May 22. •Community health centers require immediate long-term funding stability during a public health emergency.
Personal protection supplies
•Congress, the Trump administration, and state governments should continue to assess, fund, and ensure there is enough funding and supply capacity for masks, protective equipment, and other pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
•The Trump administration should use disaster relief funding to reimburse physicians for 110 percent of the Medicare rate for COVID-19 related care for uninsured patients. •The organization cites
The Wall Street Journal
to say there is precedent for using disaster relief funds for this purpose.
•Establish a COVID-19 special enrollment period for people to enroll in plan offered through the state exchanges and through all exchanges administered by the federal government under healthcare.gov
•Limit the ne enrollment periods to qualified health plans to ensure people are enrolling in meaningful coverage and not in short-term limited duration plans and health sharing ministries which have pre-existing conditions exclusions and may not cover COVID-19 treatment.
•The Trump administration should issue guidance to states and Medicaid directors encouraging them to temporarily expand Medicaid coverage eligibility with federal funds.
•HHS, CMS, and governors should close health insurance coverage gaps by extending Medicaid and CHIP coverage and removing access barriers using state plan amendments.
•States should be allowed to be flexible regarding the application process, benefits, cost-sharing, provider participation, prior authorizations, and other requirements.
Medicaid expansion continued
•The federal government should pay the full state share as it did for Medicaid coverage/ for Hurricane Katrina-displaced people. •Medicaid payments for primary care should be increased to at least the Medicare rates.
Medicaid application process
•The federal and state governments should simplify the application process and establish presumptive eligibility for Medicaid for COVID-19 testing, diagnostics, and treatment ensuring individuals are covered and that hospitals and other clinicians will be reimbursed for the care they provide.
Coverage and payment
•The Trump administration should require broader coverage and payment under all federal health programs for all medically necessary telephone consultations during the COVID-19 emergency with zero deductibles and copayments, and work with other insurers to adopt similar policies.
•Payment for these consultations allows physicians to convert face-to-face visits to virtual telehealth freeing up capacity for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients requiring immediate attention as well as supporting social distancing efforts.