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ACP Appreciates Support for Physicians in Congressional Legislation, Says More Needs to Be Done for Patients and Physicians

Washington, DC (April 23, 2020) The American College of Physicians (ACP) this afternoon acknowledged appreciation for provisions in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that will help physicians and their patients, particularly the funding to support the financial viability of physicians and their practices.

The bill, which was passed by the Senate yesterday, and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives today, would replenish funding for the Paycheck Protection Program created by the CARES Act, add billions of dollars in emergency funding for physicians and hospitals, and fund the testing needed to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19—as recommended by ACP in previous letters to Congress.

“Many physician practices attempted to apply for the forgivable paycheck protection loans that were authorized by the CARES Act, only to find that money for the program had run out in just two weeks, and with the Small Business Administration (SBA) no longer accepting applications, leaving them and millions of other businesses without access to the loans. This, combined with substantial losses of revenue for practices as they have largely converted to virtual visits that pay less than in-office visits, has brought many practices—especially smaller primary care practices—to the brink of having to lay-off or furlough staff, or even to having to shutter their practices,” wrote Robert McLean, MD, MACP, president of ACP wrote in a letter to congressional leadership. “The additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program is a critical and much-needed lifeline for physicians and their practices.”

The letter also praised the additional funding included for the Public Health and Social Services Fund (PHSSEF).  However, it cautioned that prioritizing physicians and their practices for that funding is necessary, given their critical need during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, ACP called on prioritizing primary care physician practices; smaller practices, with 15 or fewer clinicians; internal medicine subspecialists who care for patients with complex chronic diseases; and, physicians in underserved rural and urban communities.  

ACP also applauded Congress for additional funding provided to facilitate testing and contact tracing, noting that this is an element that needs to be in place before restrictions in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are eased.  

“More will need to be done to support patients and their physicians,” concluded Dr. McLean. “As Congress begins work on a stimulus four bill, ACP urges Congress to ensure that it includes provisions to support the continued viability of physician practices, such as providing per patient per month (PPPM) payments to primary care physicians to offset losses in revenue. In addition, Congress should take additional steps to expand coverage; address drug shortages and price-gouging, ensure that every physician and frontline health care worker has access to PPE, expand liability protections; fund public health responses, and address social determinants of health, among other priorities.”

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 159,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Jackie Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org