This week, Senate Republicans introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act, which signals the start of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress to draft the next bipartisan COVID-19 relief package. The House of Representatives passed its proposal, the HEROES Act, in May. The House and Senate are currently at an impasse in their negotiations, and we need your help to signal to your Members of Congress that we need action NOW.
While neither bill is perfect, there are positive provisions in each bill that would address the needs of obstetrician–gynecologists and your patients amid the pandemic, including:
- Increased funding for the Provider Relief Fund to support physicians who have suffered financial strain due to the pandemic. *Some practices may be eligible to receive relief now: apply by August 3!*
- Increased production of and support for state stockpiling of PPE
- Liability protections for physicians serving patients during the pandemic
- Ensuring continued access to telehealth for Medicare patients - Improvements to the development and availability of diagnostic testing
- Increased emergency funding to the NIH—including the NICHD—and the CDC for the development of treatments and vaccines and investments in public health programs and data reporting
- Increased federal support for the Medicaid program
ACOG also joined with partners this week to encourage additional investment in programs that provide critical services and expand access to care for patients, including:
- Urging Congress to extend flexibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to allow states to modify the delivery of critical program services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including by implementing remote services and adopting curbside models to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19
- Support for the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 (HR 7663), which would remove arbitrary geographic restrictions on where a Medicare patient must be located in order to utilize telehealth services, enable patients to continue to receive telehealth services in their homes, and ensure that federally qualified health centers and rural health centers can furnish telehealth services
As negotiations on the next COVID-19 legislation progress, ACOG will continue to advocate for you and urge legislators to prioritize the needs of obstetrician–gynecologists and your patients. Please follow us on social media and contact your members of Congress today!