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Internal Medicine Physicians Heartened that House Funding Bill Supports Important Health Programs, Urge Senate Approval

Statement attributable to:
George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, MACP, FIDSA
President, American College of Physicians

WASHINGTON, D.C. March 10, 2022 –The American College of Physicians (ACP) is pleased to see that the omnibus spending bill that the House of Representatives passed last night to fund Fiscal Year 2022 supports and funds critically important health and health care programs.

Among those programs, it includes a welcome extension of flexibilities for physicians to provide services by telehealth to patients who are enrolled in Medicare. ACP has strongly advocated for extending those flexibilities, which were granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beyond the end of the public health emergency. The House bill includes extending the lifting of geographic site restrictions so telehealth services can continue to be provided to those in both rural and urban areas and allows for audio-only telehealth services past the end of the declared public health emergency. We have seen over the past two years how telehealth services can help to increase access to necessary health care for patients. ACP believes the extension will give us time to better study the impact of these policies and decide which of the flexibilities should be made permanent.

ACP was glad to see that the bill closes a regulatory loophole and will allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate synthetic nicotine and electronic nicotine delivery systems. ACP has long supported increased restrictions on these devices and believes they should not be allowed to circumvent tobacco product regulations.

The bill also reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, a top ACP priority to support programs to prevent violence against women and provide support to women subject to violence. We are disappointed, however, that the bill does not include a provision to prohibit persons convicted of domestic violence who do not live in the same household of the victim—the so called “boyfriend loophole”—from acquiring firearms and urge Congress to take this up in future legislation.

The legislation includes grants targeted at improving maternal health, an issue that badly needs attention in our country. Additionally, the bill will increase funding for food nutrition programs; for broadband and safe drinking water in rural areas and tribal lands; for renewable energy and environmental justice; and for the protection of rights of the LGBTQ community.

Additional funding increases are included for a variety of federal health programs, including: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Health Resources and Services Administration, Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Our health care system has been under incredible strain over the past two years. We appreciate that the bill passed by the House will give stability to federal health and health care programs and increase funding for so many of them. We call on the Senate to also pass the legislation without delay.

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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 161,000 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: Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org