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Updates on the AOA’s ongoing COVID-19 advocacy efforts

By AOA Staff


While courageous osteopathic physicians and students are on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the AOA is advocating for you. Thank you for sharing your stories, as they have helped shape our advocacy efforts.

The AOA calls for payment parity between telephone and office visits

We have heard from our members that many patients are not able to visit with their doctor in person and are instead speaking to their physician via telephone, for audio-only visits. Currently, CPT codes 99201-99215 are available and at comparable rates as if these were in-person visits; however, some patients are unable to connect via telehealth with their physicians, for video-based visits, as they may not have devices compatible to facilitate the use of telehealth. This is especially true in rural areas.

To better serve you, the AOA recently participated in a letter sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) urging them to take the following actions:

  • Provide payment parity between telephone evaluation and management (E/M) codes (99441-99443) and office visit E/M codes.
  • Immediately provide guidance to Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to ensure that recent CMS guidance and rules are followed appropriately to enable the payment of telephone E/M claims.

The current payment disparity is creating financial hardships for practices that rely on using audio-only calls to treat their patients. By implementing the recommendations above, patients will be able to get the care they need during these difficult times. The AOA will continue to advocate for payment parity between telephone and office visits during the COVID-19 emergency.

The AOA advocates for student loan forgiveness

Last week the AOA signed on to a proposal that calls on Congress to create a loan forgiveness program that would incentivize osteopathic students to go into public sector public health jobs. This program would provide student loan forgiveness to physicians who choose to practice for at least two years in a public department of health at the state, local or tribal level.

In addition, the program would help osteopathic students pursue the careers they are interested in while helping to strengthen public health departments across the country. The AOA also partnered with the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) on a letter writing campaign to encourage Congress to adopt the proposal.

Tell Congress to expand medical leave benefits for health professionals

Congress recently passed a law that expands paid medical leave for most Americans, but leaves out physicians and other health professionals. As Physicians across the country continue to battle the COVID-19 outbreak they should not have to make the following life threatening decision when they or a loved one get sick:

  1. Continue to treat patients and risk spreading the virus, or;
  2. Stay home and not receive paid medical benefits.

Please take the time to email your members of Congress today. Let them know that any future stimulus packages that address COVID-19 must provide our healthcare workforce with the same paid family and medical leave benefits already granted to others. Your actions today will help ensure that patients and their physicians can stay safe during this crisis.

Join the Osteopathic Advocacy Network and participate in a townhall with your lawmakers

While physicians and other health professionals are working on the front lines, members of Congress are working in Washington, DC to determine the best policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your lawmakers need input from front line physicians – like yourself – who can let them know what you’re actually facing on the ground and what gaps can be covered through legislation.

Members of Congress across the country are holding virtual townhalls where you could be able to weigh in on how we should respond to COVID-19. Are you interested in participating in a virtual townhall with your lawmakers? If so, sign-up for the Osteopathic Advocacy Network to learn more.