Statement attributable to:
Jacqueline Fincher, MD, MACP
President, American College of Physicians
Washington, DC (April 30, 2020) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) is extremely pleased by the announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that they will begin paying for telephone calls between patients and their physicians at a rate equal to in-office visits. ACP has repeatedly requested this change from CMS as the country has been dealing with the COVID-19 national emergency and we are heartened that they have heard our concerns.
ACP began calling for this change in March, repeatedly addressing it in letters to officials at CMS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ACP organized a sign-on letter with over 30 other major medical associations calling on CMS to provide pay parity. We repeatedly called on Congress to do what they could to make this change happen, including working with the office of Sen. Manchin to write a letter to CMS requesting this change. We are glad to know that our message about the importance of these payments to physician practices was received.
Physician practices are critical to providing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic, both to those patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 and to those who have chronic medical conditions or other concerns. Right now, due to a drastic decrease in in-office patient visits, many practices are struggling to remain open and continue providing needed care. Many seniors and other vulnerable patients lack the capability to conduct video visits with their physicians, so those patients are being cared for with telephone-only visits that were reimbursed at a much lower rate.
More still needs to be done to ensure that physician practices are able to remain operational and care for their patients, but this change in payment policy addresses one of the biggest issues facing physicians as they struggle to make up for lost revenue and provide appropriate care to patients.
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.
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