Updates on AMA COVID-19 advocacy

On May 14, AMA released updates on their efforts related to COVID-19:

First, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued guidance to help physicians and the public understand potential uses and limitations of antibody testing, and warn against determining immunity or discontinuing physical distancing based on antibody testing.

Second, AMA signed onto a coalition letter with eight other groups including AAFP, ACP, and MGMA urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide more options for Accountable Care Organizations as they address the current pandemic.

Third, we are working on a summary of HR 6800, the HEROES Act, and will route that after we incorporate information on the latest amendments.

Finally, in the two weeks since CMS announced that it would pay for the audio-only telephone visit codes at rates equivalent to the office visit codes retroactive to March 1, 2020, we have received several inquiries regarding whether the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) would automatically reprocess these claims at the new rates or if physicians will need to resubmit them. CMS has informed us that the MACs will be expected to automatically adjust retroactive changes to claims payment. That being said, CMS also noted that it can take time to implement changes. During COVID-19, the agency did not have the usual time between publishing a new (interim) final rule and pushing out and implementing the usual change requests that happen in the normal course of events. CMS recommends that physicians give the MACs some time to catch up and then check with the MACs if they have questions. In addition, we wanted to note that the AMA is encouraging CMS to accept information that physicians may gather about their patient’s diagnoses through audio-only visits for use in their Medicare Advantage network’s risk scores. In part as a response to AMA advocacy, CMS recently made a policy change to accept data gathered through audio-video telehealth visits in MA plan risk scores, so this recommendation would extend that change to audio-only visits.

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