Featuring Advocacy news and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic
AAOS Advocacy in Action

Voiced our strong support of legislation that would provide immediate relief for physicians who are being asked to reschedule or cancel elective cases and urged Congress to include the legislation in the COVID-19 relief packages.
Urged Congress to make changes to certain aspects of current healthcare law in response to COVID-19, knowing that a breakdown of current orthopaedic standards of care would be devastating to the American health care network if not addressed immediately.
Signed onto a surgical coalition letter asking Congress for several provisions to be considered in draft legislation to help with COVID-19 challenges, including protection of frontline physicians, funding of military-civilian partnerships, and relief of unnecessary prior authorization.
Joined other physician organizations in

advocating for a twice-weekly update from the Administration on its COVID-19 response.

AAOS Launches COVID-19 Member Resource Center 

On March 20, AAOS President Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, sent a message to the full membership regarding COVID-19. She said the Academy is committed to staying out in front of the rapidly evolving pandemic and, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that surgeons are well-equipped to provide care to patients who require urgent or emergent surgeries. Dr. Weber continued stating that AAOS has prioritized the development of a hub where members can easily access a wide range of relevant and credible COVID-19 resources and information. Topics include recommendations for postponing elective surgery, effective practice management (including the use of telemedicine), ways to ensure the safety of patients, staff and physicians, policy changes around coding and regulation, as well as ongoing advocacy for issues affecting musculoskeletal healthcare.  Visit the AAOS COVID-19 member resource center…


New Recommendations Advise Against Elective Surgery and Procedures

The AAOS supports new recommendations on delaying elective surgeries advocated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and the U.S. Surgeon General. In a March 16 letter to members, AAOS President Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, noted that the COVID-19 situation presents a rapidly evolving set of circumstances, all of which place a strain on our health care systems and providers. She said that, “Critical decisions concerning the deployment of resources and the management of elective MSK procedures should be made based on institutional policies and recommendations from local, state and federal authorities, considering the availability of finite and essential resources.” The new CMS guidance offers a tiered framework for helping healthcare delivery systems and surgeons evaluate both the risks and benefits of planned procedures as well as resource conservation.  View CMS adult elective surgery recommendations…

Regulations Relaxed to Broaden Access to Telehealth Services

Several key changes have been made to federal privacy regulations and payment policy in an effort to broaden access and increase flexibility for critically-needed telemedicine services during COVID-19.  The Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR), for example, will no longer impose penalties on physicians in the event of noncompliance with requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for physicians using applications such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video or Skype. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of health care services from their physicians without having to visit a health care facility.  Learn more using the AAOS telemedicine resource guide…

CMS Announces Relief for Physicians in Quality Reporting Programs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced unprecedented relief for the clinicians, providers, and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs including the 1.2 million clinicians in the Quality Payment Program and on the front lines fighting against COVID-19. Specifically, the agency is granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for upcoming measure reporting and data submission deadlines. The deadline for submitting 2019 data for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) has been extended from March 31 to April 30, 2020. Additionally, MIPS eligible clinicians who have not submitted any MIPS data by April 30 will qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year. The AAOS continues to raise concern on behalf of its members and send verbal and written questions/requests to federal agencies in an effort to reduce the data collection and reporting burden on providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the relief changes…


Congress Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201). The law provides  employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers, who have been on the job for at least 30 days, with the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave. It also requires employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees two weeks of paid sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate, to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for the coronavirus; or paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus. The law will also provide cost-sharing or medical management techniques for COVID-19 testing and services related to testing for private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid or CHIP plans. Read a full overview of the bill…

What We’re Reading

·         These Doctors Have Specialties. Fighting Coronavirus Wasn’t One of Them. (New York Times, 3/24)

·         COVID-19 could prompt higher 2021 insurance premiums, benefit cuts (Modern Healthcare, 3/23)

·         Elective surgeries continue at some US hospitals during coronavirus outbreak despite supply and safety worries (USA Today, 3/21)

·         Trump signs second major COVID-19 relief package (Modern Healthcare, 3/18)