COVID-19 Breaking News

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 New Resource: COVID-19 Clinical Guidance

Updated April 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

The ACR has published clinical guidance for the care of patients with rheumatic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. All recommendations are based on current knowledge and will be revised as circumstances and evidence evolve. COVID-19 Clinical Guidance for Patients with Rheumatic Diseases


 HHS Announces Additional Allocations to Relief Fund

Updated April 27, 2020 at 6:00 PM ET

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced details on remaining allocations of the Provider Relief Fund created by the CARES Act. An additional $20 billion has been designated for general distribution to Medicare facilities and providers impacted by COVID-19. Unlike the initial tranche of funding from the HHS, most eligible practices will need to complete the application before funds are approved and sent to their bank account. HHS Announces Additional Allocations to Relief Fund - New


 New Resource: ACR Guiding Principles for Decision Making: In-Person Urgent vs. Virtual Non-Urgent Medical Care

Updated April 26, 2020 at 12:15 PM ET

The ACR recognizes the importance of physical distancing in an attempt to minimize patients’ risk of exposure to COVID-19. Yet many rheumatology patients also have diseases or take medications that require intensive monitoring, heightening the need for careful discernment of routine, urgent, and emergent care for rheumatology patients. The ACR offers guidance about scenarios, common in day-to-day rheumatology practices, that might reasonably be considered urgent and in which a patient might be advised to seek face-to-face medical care, based on an individual patient’s unique situation, rather than a virtual encounter. Read the guidance document - Updated May 9, 2020


 COVID-19 CARES Act Package Additional Funds Summary

Updated April 22, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET

On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation injecting additional funds in the CARES Act. The House is predicted to vote to pass the package on Thursday. Included are the following:

  • $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, including $60 billion for small lenders and community banks to facilitate increased access to the program
  • $25 billion for COVID-19 testing
  • $60 billion for disaster relief programs through the Small Business Administration
  • $75 billion for hospitals and providers: “…to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for necessary expenses to reimburse, through grants or other mechanisms, eligible health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus.”

The ACR will continue to follow this new funding as policymakers determine the methods and timing of distribution. ACR/ARP members can reach out directly to Congress to let lawmakers know providers need financial support tailored for our needs to preserve patient access to care.


ACR COVID-19 Newsletter Archives

Breaking News Archives

ACR Guiding Principles for Scarce Resource Allocation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated April 22, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

The ACR offers recommendations regarding the allocation of several resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. All recommendations are based on current knowledge and are subject to revision as circumstances evolve.


Health and Human Services Emergency Fund Disburses First $30 Billion to Practices

Updated April 21, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is disbursing the first $30 billion of the $100 billion Congress allocated to hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These distributions are reflective of the advocacy requests made by the ACR, the AMA, and other physician societies in response to challenges being faced during the COVID-19 emergency. HHS has confirmed these relief funds are emergency payments, not loans, to healthcare providers and they will not need to be repaid.
Read the ACR's updated guidance about the CARES Act provider aid disbursement - Updated April 20, 2020


New Patient Resources

Updated April 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

The ACR has developed guidance for rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals talking to patients who have questions about how and when to access rheumatology care during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those patients who have questions about remote or telehealth visits with their rheumatology provider.


New Resource: Advice for Talking to Patients About Shortages of Hydroxychloroquine During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated April 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

Patients who take hydroxychloroquine are facing medication shortages. Providers who care for rheumatology patients are facing disparate policy recommendations for prescribing and allocation of antimalarials. The American College of Rheumatology regularly updates guidance on allocation of hydroxychloroquine for the benefit of its members and our patients. The following are suggested points that rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals may wish to consider when discussing this difficult issue with patients. Advice for Talking to Patients About Shortages of Hydroxychloroquine - Updated May 2, 2020


Stimulus Relief Aid for Rheumatology Practices; Details and How to Apply Now

Updated March 31, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

Rheumatology practices are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sustainability of practices is being threatened and patient access to care is being reduced. The Paycheck Protection Program within the newly enacted stimulus package provides forgivable federal loans to small businesses, including physician practices, with no more than 500 employees. Funds can be used to help retain workers, maintain payroll, and cover rent/mortgage/utility expenses.
Find out if your practice is eligible, how to apply, and other important details in the ACR’s guidance for practices - Updated April 24, 2020
Read the AMA's summary of all relevant CARES Act provisions


Congress Passes Stimulus Package with Help for Rheumatologists

Updated March 31, 2020 at 11:00 AM ET

On March 27, the House passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, the CARES Act, which was sent to them by the Senate on March 25 after lengthy negotiations. This legislation is designed to bolster the economy and support the country’s healthcare infrastructure and providers in battling COVID-19.

The ACR was excited to see certain policies included in the package, which is on its way to the President's desk to be signed in to law. Such policies include:
  • $16 billion to replenish supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies.
  • Prioritizing and expediting FDA applications that could help prevent or mitigate a drug shortage.
  • Supporting the healthcare workforce by reauthorizing Title VII of the Public Health Service Act which supports the training of practitioners. This also includes the pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program the ACR has advocated for through grassroots and member Hill visits.
  • Cancelling payments for federal student loan borrowers with federally-held loans and preventing the accrual of interest on those loans through September.
  • $500 billion in small business relief, which may be applied for by eligible medical practices.
  • $150 billion for healthcare providers and hospitals most affected by COVID-19 to be used to support the workforce, supply them with PPE and testing supplies, and construct facilities.
  • Prohibiting patient cost sharing for COVID-19 testing or treatment.
  • Promoting the use of telehealth technologies.

The ACR is continuing to review the details and application of this important legislation. Read the AMA's summary of relevant positions


Important Statement: ACR Responds to Trump Announcement Regarding Use of Chloroquine as Treatment

Posted March 20, 2020

The American College of Rheumatology acknowledges President Trump's directive to the Food and Drug Administration asking them to 'fast track' potential treatments for COVID-19, including the antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Rheumatologists have extensive experience using these drugs and understand their safety and efficacy, including for our patients with rheumatic disease who take these medications on a regular basis. We hope that pragmatic clinical trials of these drugs can be done quickly to determine how well they work, who should get them, and at what point in the illness. If the demand for these drugs increases rapidly, we urge pharmaceutical companies to continue to provide these medications to mitigate drug shortages.

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