Internists Encourage Several Major Health Insurers and Associations to Keep Telehealth and Other Flexibilities In Place After the COVID-19 Health Crisis

Washington, DC (June 11, 2020) In a series of letters sent this afternoon to several major health insurers and health insurance associations in the U.S., the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggested recommendations about how to keep the new COVID-19 flexibilities in place after the period of the public health emergency has ended. The four letters were sent to the Presidents and CEOs of the following: the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, UnitedHealth Group, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“If private payers do not join with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide physician practices with the critical support they need in this unprecedented crisis, hundreds if not thousands of practices across the country may be at real financial risk of closing, leaving a critical shortage of healthcare services at a time we can least afford it,” wrote Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president, ACP.

Specifically, the College is calling for the following: 

  1. An extension of telehealth and telephone flexibilities paid at the same rate as in-person services regardless of the platform used; 
  2. Direct financial support including reimbursing waived patient cost sharing responsibilities and direct relief payments; 
  3. Developing more Alternative Payment Models that move away from inconsistent fee-for-service, particularly those that offer fixed, periodic prospective payments; and
  4. An extension and expansion of current administrative flexibilities, including a broad reprieve from prior authorization requirements, which draw time and resources away from direct patient care.

“These important changes will enable physicians and their care teams to adapt to the new environment and deliver patients the care they need in a manner that helps to protect their safety, as well as those around them,” continued Dr. Fincher. “Practices will not recover from this crisis overnight. At a minimum, these changes should extend at least through the end of 2021, or until such a time when effective vaccines and treatments are widely available, with an option to extend further based on the experiences of patients and physicians.”

Read the detailed recommendations in each of the letters:  Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, UnitedHealth Group, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and America’s Health Insurance Plans.


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: Taneishia Bundy, (202) 261-4523,