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Federal Advocacy

Covid-19 Response

The Health Affairs Committee sent a letter to Congress this week recommending that the 4th COVID-19 emergency stimulus package accommodate these priorities:

      • Address the ongoing critical need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
      • Promote the financial stability of medical practices:
      • Remove the 25% cap on the use of PPP funds to cover overhead expenses;
      • Accommodate flexibility needed to pay vendors to maintain solvency while protecting the current workforce;
      • Develop broader access to reliable testing;
      • Mandate payment parity between telephone evaluation and office visits by decoupling newly-enacted telehealth flexibilities from the “declared national emergency;”
      • Broaden clinician liability protections;
      • Encourage CMS to pressure Medicare Advantage plans to waive prior authorization requirements;
      • Delay/relax administrative program requirements, including the Appropriate Use Criteria program, Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, and interoperability and data blocking changes.

The themes of liability protection and suspension of prior authorization have been further amplified by State Affairs’ local advocacy efforts:

    • ACC joined the Regulatory Relief coalition, an alliance of national medical societies, in urging State Governors and Insurance Commissioners to suspend prior authorization for all procedures during the national emergency;
    • ACC has monitored state approaches to liability protections for clinicians, with notable models in Rhode Island (provided courtesy of Dr. Athena Poppas) which by executive order has deemed all health care workers “disaster response workers”, shielding them from most malpractice actions during the crisis, and Mississippi (provided courtesy of Dr. Thad Waites), which has enacted similar safeguards;
    • Late last month, a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Azar went out to State Governors, urging the expansion of scope of practice for health care providers during the pandemic.  State Affairs will be monitoring closely to follow the implications of this for the workforce both now, and as efforts to contain the virus progress toward the new normal.

Here’s how you and your Chapter can help with these efforts:

    • A Grass Roots Advocacy update went out recently with a link allowing communication with your Senators in support of the HAC’s priorities.   Please disseminate to your colleagues, and emphasize the importance of making our voices heard on these important issues;
    • Approach your State Governors and reinforce the importance of suspending prior authorization during the crisis, as outlined in the Regulatory Relief Coalition letter.  This has been an important priority of the BOG’s Advocacy Task Force, and the time is right to roll back this burdensome barrier to care;
    • Using the Rhode Island executive order as a model, consider approaching your Governor or legislature about the suspension of liability for health care providers during the pandemic;
    • Know your contact from ACC’s State Government Affairs, and coordinate with one another – they are your link to the College’s grassroots infrastructure.

The Chapters provide the College with a national network to amplify and execute its advocacy priorities on the local level.  We also can provide vital information to each other about what is happening in our states, either to emulate best practices, or to guard against concerning trends.  As we negotiate the COVID-19 crisis in the lead-up to Legislative Conference in the fall, developing a robust architecture for state advocacy will be key to weathering the pandemic, and beyond.  Look for an invitation to participate in a WebEx with a selected subset of your BOG colleagues within the next few months to develop strategies for nurturing this vital grass roots network, and strengthening our relationship with State Affairs.


Coronavirus and Your Heart: Don't Ignore Heart Symptoms

ACC CardioSmart recently published the infographic below to emphasize the importance of maintaining heart health through the epidemic. Click here for additional information.

Heart Health during COVID-19 path

Advocacy in 2020

The below issues are those which ACC is currently devoting much effort. Click here for more information and to see how you may help.

Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2019 (H.R. 3107) which would streamline prior authorization practices and increase transparency and accountability in the Medicare Advantage program.

Medicare Care Coordination Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R. 2282/S. 966) which would modernize physician self-referral prohibitions to promote care coordination and facilitate participation in alternative payment models (APMs) under the Medicare program. Additionally, members of Congress should encourage CMS to thoroughly consider input provided by the ACC and other stakeholders while modernizing related regulatory language.

Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019 (H.R. 3911) which would authorize advanced practice providers to order and refer patients for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation under Medicare and begin supervising patients’ day-to-day cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation care (CR/PR) in 2020 – rather than 2024 (current law).                                                                                                      

South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2019 (H.R. 3131) which would fund grants through the NIH and CDC to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among South Asian populations living in the United States.

Bills to combat the youth tobacco epidemic by raising the tobacco age to 21 and imposing restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes:

  • The Tobacco to 21 Act (H.R. 2411/S. 1258)
  • Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (H.R. 2339)
  • SAFE Kids Act (H.R. 1498/S. 655)
  • Tobacco-Free Youth Act (S. 1541)




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Maryland Chapter, American College of Cardiology

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