Coronavirus

PAMED Advocacy & Action

Our physician leadership and staff are focused on working with our stakeholders and government officials to get the answers and action you need to take care of your patients during this difficult time. A list of issues we’re working on follows:

Issue

Description

Medical Liability Immunity

Physicians and other health care providers are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, and in doing so, risking their lives and the lives of their family members in the process. Why should we expose them to the additional risk of a lawsuit while they are risking their lives in this pressing emergency? 

On May 6, 2020, Gov. Wolf issued an executive order granting medical liability to some physicians who treat COVID-19 patients. PAMED acknowledges this as a good first step toward protecting the physicians of Pennsylvania. However, we are frustrated that his executive order did not cover practitioners in outpatient settings. Learn more about the order and get a list of facilities/settings covered under the order here.

PAMED has urged the governor to expand the order to include any setting in which physicians see COVID-19 patients. We also support SB 1239, a state bill that would expand lawsuit abuse protections for practitioners caring for COVID-19 patients. Physicians are encouraged to contact their State Senator to urge them to support 1239 - Learn more about contacting your Senator here.

Physicians and other health care professionals in the outpatient setting are encouraged to reach out to Gov. Wolf and legislators to voice your concerns.

The governor’s executive order issued on May 6 also relaxed scope of practice regulations for CRNAs. On May 7, the Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists sent a letter to Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine expressing concern over the relaxation of scope of practice regulations. PAMED and POMA also signed onto the letter. Read the letter

Throughout the COVID-19 emergency, PAMED has been strongly advocating with the governor’s office and legislators for medical liability immunity for health care providers involved in treating COVID-19 patients. Our actions include this letter sent on April 14 to the governor, urging him to issue an executive order on medical liability immunity . On April 24, 2020, PAMED led a coalition of more than 30 state medical specialty societies and Pa. county medical societies in issuing a medical liability statement to Gov. Wolf. Read the full statement.

Telemedicine

PAMED has requested Gov. Wolf limit potential exposure to at-risk populations and the community, by

a) Directing insurers to reimburse for telehealth services, set the reimbursement at the same rate as face-to-face services, and

b) extending similar benefits across the Commonwealth to match the federal relaxation of HIPAA regulations such as allowing the use of everyday communication technology, such as Skype and FaceTime, and

c) Contacting his fellow governors in bordering states to request that Pennsylvania providers be able to treat established patients from their states via telemedicine.

To learn more about how to provide telehealth to your patients, please visit PAMED's telehealth resource page.

Active Retired Physicians

PAMED requested that the Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs allow active-retired physicians, who have entered active-retired licensure status within the past two years, be temporarily permitted to return to active unrestricted status and that all requirements that typically must be fulfilled by an applicant seeking to return to active practice be waived. We also asked for waivers with regard to volunteering and continuing medical education requirements.

Learn more about how to return to work.

Communicating with the Department of Health

PAMED requested a designated telephone line for health care providers addressing a potential or active case of COVID-19.

PPE Shortage

PAMED asked Gov. Wolf to direct funding to purchase PPEs for practices and facilities that need it. Gov. Wolf took a good first step to addressing this crisis by creating the Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal(the “Portal”) to source the most needed medical supplies. Visit Procurement Portal.

On April 20, PAMED sent a letter to Gov. Wolf to ask that a percentage of the available PPE stockpile be apportioned to providers who are providing life sustaining care in private practices. Read Letter.

On Aug. 13, we led a coalition of 15 state medical specialty societies and county medical societies in again urging the governor to ensure that non-hospital-based physicians have access to the PPE they need - Learn more.

To find more details on PPE,visit the "PPE" section of PAMED's coronavirus resource page at www.pamedsoc.org/coronavirus

Prior Authorization

In an effort to reduce time-consuming, administrative burdens on already overwhelmed practices, PAMED asked Gov. Wolf to direct insurers to suspend all prior authorization and utilization management activities to allow for more time to focus on direct patient care.

Financial Relief for Practices

PAMED asked that the state provide financial relief for medical practices who are overwhelmed with significantly increased costs and substantially reduced revenue, in order to avoid closure.

Find details on loan opportunities in the "Business Resources and Loan Opportunities" section of PAMED's coronavirus resource page.

State Licensure Requirements

Given the increase in services related to COVID-19, PAMED believes that emergency circumstances are present, and asked Gov. Wolf to authorize the state licensure boards under the Department of State to waive state licensure requirements that will hamper the use of telehealth or provision of medical services during this pandemic.

Temporary Cessation of all Non-Emergent Inspections and Facility Surveys

PAMED asked Gov. Wolf to direct any department responsible for surveys and investigations to be judicious at this time and evaluate the need for surveys or investigations that would compromise patient care.

Informed Consent

PAMED urged the administration to support informed consent legislation and work with the General Assembly to prioritize their enactment into law.

Advisory Opinions from State Agencies

PAMED asked Gov. Wolf to allow licensees to seek legal advice and/or advisory opinions directly from state agencies such as the Departments of State, Health, Humans Services, and Insurance, as this would enable them to balance the need to remain compliant with laws while at the same time provide them answers that non-government entities cannot adequately give them.

Expedited Professional Licensure

In anticipation of increased demand for health care services as a result of COVID-19, PAMED requested expedited processing of licensure applications for physicians as well as other health care providers, including the review and approval of physician-physician assistant written agreements.

Assistance with Medical Liability Surcharges / Mcare Abatement

Given the current climate, PAMED encouraged the administration to work with the General Assembly to provide relief to health care providers from paying the Mcare surcharge at this time, whether through a waiver or by supplementing payments through the state’s Rainy Day Fund or other appropriation.

Good Samaritan Protection

PAMED requested Gov. Wolf ensure that Good Samaritan protections are extended to all individuals who in good-faith are providing needed services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pa’s Supreme Court pre-trial civil proceedings against healthcare practitioners and providers may continue during the COVID-19 pandemic

On March 30, PAMED asked the Supreme Court to recognize these unprecedented times and provide a temporary cessation of proceedings against practitioners and providers. The more practitioners that can focus on this pandemic, the better the Commonwealth will be.

Learn more about the Pa. Supreme Court's response to our letter here.

Medical Students & USMLE Exams

On June 1, PAMED sent a letter to the American Association of Medical Colleges, urging them to give consideration for actions to address the current issues surrounding the administration of the USMLE and COMLEX exams. Read our letter.

Non-Immigrant Visas for International Medical Graduates

On May 8, PAMED sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, urging the Administration to allow J-1, H-1B, and O-1 International Medical Graduates to be exempt from any future immigration bans or limitations so that these physicians can maintain their lawful nonimmigrant status while responding to the urgent COVID-19 pandemic. Read letter.

Get this American Medical Association update with guidance for international medical graduates here.

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