A letter from your ACEP President William Jaquis, MD, FACEP:
Wednesday, I participated in a briefing with top White House officials - including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence - and a small group of other medical societies to discuss ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and specific ways the administration can provide better flexibility and resources for physicians and the broader health care system.
Much of the discussion centered around the need for additional PPE and expanding access to testing. We were assured that significant steps were being taken to increase production of PPE by private industries within the US. In addition, the approval of more efficient analyzers should speed up the testing process and increase capacity soon.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma also reviewed her department’s recent decisions to provide greater flexibility for telehealth, including relaxing HIPAA requirements to allow for physicians to communicate with patients using video on smart phones. She also stated that CMS is working to ease the quality reporting burden and eliminate federal reporting requirements during this time.
During the meeting, I asked HHS Secretary Alex Azar to use his authority to consider providing certain liability protections for emergency physicians and others on the front lines during this crisis. I pointed out that limited liability protections have recently been extended to manufacturers, distributors, certain health care providers, and other entities in relation to covered countermeasures. Extending similar temporary protections to us will ensure greater ability and capacity to treat more patients.
Secretary Azar asked that ACEP follow up with his team with specifics on our needs in this area, which we will provide.