COVID-19 Practice and Advocacy Resources

Updated July 28, 2020 at 4:45 PM ET

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Commercial Payer Temporary Telehealth Policies - Updated July 28, 2020
The ACR has compiled a chart of the temporary changes that commercial payers have made to their telehealth policies.

Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions - Updated May 14, 2020
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resource is a companion to the ACR Telemedicine Provider Fact Sheet to assist rheumatologists and their staff locate answers to key questions on practice flow and coding/billing telehealth services. 

ACR Telemedicine Provider Fact Sheet - Updated July 20, 2020
The ACR’s Telemedicine Provider Fact Sheet provides coding and other practical guidance for ensuring proper reimbursement for telehealth services. 

Telehealth Quick Reference Guide - Updated May 6, 2020
The ACR quick reference coding guide is designed to assist rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals to navigate coding and billing for telehealth services. 

Template Letter to State Boards Regarding Malpractice Carriers - Updated May 1, 2020
The ACR has created a template letter that providers can use to reach out to their state medical boards to advocate for clearer directives on practicing telehealth across state lines.

States Waiving of Modifying Licensure Requirements for Telemedicine in Response to COVID-19 - Updated April 24, 2020
The ACR has compiled a chart of state modifications to licensure requirements enabling providers to conduct telehealth across state lines during the COVID-19 emergency.

Patient Resource: How to Navigate Telehealth - Updated April 11, 2020
The ACR has developed guidance for rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals talking to patients who have questions about remote or telehealth visits with their rheumatology provider during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth Vendor List - Updated April 2, 2020
The ACR list of vendors is designed to help navigate an increasingly crowded space to choose the telehealth company that best meets rheumatology practices specific operational needs and unique patient population.

Medical Malpractice Coverage for Telehealth Services - Updated March 27, 2020
The ACR has prepared a chart with information on malpractice coverage for telehealth services. Practices are encouraged to contact their carriers and confirm coverage.  

Practice Support

Advice from the American College of Rheumatology: Reopening Strategies During the COVID-19 Pandemic  - Updated July 26, 2020
This guidance from the ACR is intended for rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals to consider as they evaluate local conditions, design reopening procedures, monitor progress, and advise staff and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The updated guidance includes strategies for safe return of staff and patients to the clinic for a visit or to work following suspected or confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2.

ACR Town Hall: COVID-19 Guidance for Your Community Practice   - New
The ACR hosted a virtual town hall for the rheumatology community on July 13. Hear the latest on utilizing telehealth and its future for rheumatology, strategies for reopening clinics and the return of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tips for handling federal relief funds and reporting.

ACR "Essential Eight" for Minimizing Risk During the COVID-19 Pandemic  - New
The ACR has created a patient-facing resource on the essential eight things you can do to minimize your risk and the risk to others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACR Joins Coalition Letter Asking Congress to Expand Liability Protections During COVID-19 Pandemic  - New

ACR Signs Coalition letter to CMS Asking for Guardrails on the Use of Step Therapy  - New
Letter from ACR-led Step Therapy Coalition to CMS requesting guardrails from the Safe Step Act apply to Medicare and Medicaid services during the COVID-19 crisis which has highlighted the demand of step therapy on already struggling practices.

Guiding Principles for Decision Making: In-Person Urgent vs. Virtual Non-Urgent Medical Care - Updated May 9, 2020
The ACR has developed guiding principles related to urgent vs. non-urgent rheumatology services offered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACR Signs Coalition Letter to Congress to Restrict Step Therapy Use During COVID-19  - Posted April 27, 2020
Letter from ACR-led Step Therapy Coalition to Congress requesting guardrails from the Safe Step Act apply to the practice during COVID-19 crisis highlighting the demand of step therapy on struggling practices.

ACR Home Infusion Guiding Principles During COVID-19  - Posted April 14, 2020
The ACR has developed guiding principles related to home infusion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACR Infusion Guidance During COVID-19  - Updated April 11, 2020
Patient access to office-based infusion services is a top priority for rheumatology practices. The ACR has created infusion guidance best practices to keep rheumatology practices up to date with relevant information to navigate this complex landscape.

Patient Resource: When and How to Seek Care  - Updated April 11, 2020
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.

Economic Support

Senate Majority Releases Proposed Draft of Next COVID-19 Package - New
On July 27, the Senate majority released a draft of what they would like to see in the next COVID-19 package of legislation. This draft is just a starting point but includes many notable provisions. Provided is an overview of the process, timeline, and policies included 

ACR Joins Coalition Letter Asking Congress to Include the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (HR 1763/S 348) in Next COVID-19 Package - New
This legislation addresses the increasing medical workforce shortage by easing the cap on Medicare-supported graduate medical education and adding 3,000 positions each year for five years thereby producing an additional 3,750 physicians annually once fully implemented. 

HHS Updated FAQs - CARES Act Provider Relief Fund - New
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is continually updating its Frequently Asked Questions document pertaining to the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund distributions. Updates include details regarding attestation, the determination of additional funds, reporting requirements, and other targeted distributions. 

ACR Writes to Thank House and Senate Leaders for Introducing the Workforce Resilience Act (HR 6788/S 3599) - June 15, 2020
This legislation would reallocate unused visas previously authorized by Congress to medical professionals ensuring durable immigration status for this vital workforce.

HR 7010 Eases Requirements for Paycheck Protection Program Loan Recipients - June 5, 2020
On Friday, June 5, the President signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (HR 7010) into law. This Bill contains eight pivotal provisions which modify how Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers can maximize forgiveness of the loans by adding more flexibility and extending important timeframes. This document details the eight provisions and how these updates impact borrowers.

ACR Signs Coalition Letter Requesting Funding for Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program in COVID Relief Legislation - May 13, 2020
Letter from ACR-led Pediatric Workforce Coalition to Congress requesting they allocate funding to the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program which was reauthorized by the CARES Act in April in response to the current crisis which has highlighted the medical workforce shortage and related access to care issues for patients.

HHS Announces Additional Allocations to Relief Fund - April 27, 2020
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.

Paycheck Protection Program Overview - Updated April 24, 2020
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. The program's application can be found online, and if your existing lender is not participating, you can find eligible lenders on the SBA website.

Health and Human Services Emergency Fund Disburses First $30 Billion to Practices - Updated April 20, 2020
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.

Sustain your Rheumatology Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic   - April 6, 2020
Watch ACR Insurance Subcommittee Chair Chris Phillips, MD, as he addresses important questions that can help you sustain your rheumatology practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insurance Advocacy

ACR Letter to Commercial Payers Regarding Access to Hydroxychloroquine and Telehealth Concerns 
The ACR is urging insurance companies to limit the use of prior authorizations for patients already taking hydroxychloroquine, adopt uniform coding guidelines for telehealth visits and reimburse at parity for telehealth, including audio-only visits.

ACR Letter to Commercial Payers Urging Relief from COVID-19 Burdens
The ACR is urging insurance companies to expand access to telehealth services and to provide relief from administrative burdens and practice disruptions, including those from prior authorization.

ACR Signs on to Regulatory Relief Coalition Letter Requesting Medicare Advantage Plans Waive PA Requirements
The ACR joined with other specialty society members of the Regulatory Relief Coalition urging CMS to instruct Medicare Advantage plans to waive prior authorization requirements for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency.

ACR Updated Statement on Prior Authorization
The ACR has released an official position statement concerning prior authorization and the significant burdens it creates for patients and rheumatology professionals.

ACR Guidance on Hydroxychloroquine and Other Drug Shortages

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

Compounding Pharmacy Announcement  - New 
Following FDA's authorization to allow compounding pharmacies to compound hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for patients who have relied on this medication, the ACR has been working to help members quickly identify pharmacies that may have compounded HCQ.

Advice for Talking to Patients About Shortages of Hydroxychloroquine During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Updated May 2, 2020
The ACR has generated suggested talking points that rheumatology professionals may wish to consider when discussing the hydroxychloroquine shortage with patients.

Joint Statement on Hydroxychloroquine Access During COVID-19 Crisis
The ACR joined with the American Academy of Dermatology, Arthritis Foundation, and Lupus Foundation of America in a joint statement to the administration and the nation’s governors highlighting critical hydroxychloroquine access issues.

ACR State Letter for Recommendations for Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine Usage
The ACR has generated a letter that providers can use on the state level to advocate for appropriate usage of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FDA Releases Video on Emergency Use Authorizations   - New
Following discussions with ACR, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a video further clarifying their Emergency Use Authorization for Hydroxychloroquine.

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