American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

Ophthalmologists Zoom to Capitol Hill

First-ever virtual hill day will urge Congress to preserve physician practices today so they can serve patients tomorrow

Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 12, 2020 – More than 200 ophthalmologists from 40 states today are Zooming or teleconferencing with lawmakers and their staffs in Washington, D.C. to push for congressional support for measures that will help physician practices survive the COVID-19 pandemic and to restore patients’ timely access to sight-saving treatments. This is the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s first-ever Virtual Hill Day. Physicians, eager to share how the pandemic has affected their patients and their practices, quickly filled registration. This event replaces the Academy’s annual April visit to Capitol Hill to speak on behalf of millions of American patients.

The decision to stop routine surgical and in-office visits back in March was necessary to protect patients’ health and safety, but it had a devastating impact on ophthalmology practices, many of which are small businesses. Ophthalmologists continue to provide treatment for potentially blinding conditions, but as caseloads plummet, ophthalmology practices are unable to cover their normal operating expenses such as staff salaries, monthly lease payments, equipment maintenance, and all other overhead.

Top among our issues:

Immediate relief during the pandemic

Federal aid is critical so practices can keep employees on the payroll and appropriately treat patients who need urgent care today.

  • Urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reinstate the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program to provide another resource to practices struggling financially.
  • Enact needed changes to the Medicare Advanced Payment Program to help practices that have already received funds through it and for those that may do so in the future.
  • Provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program if the newly appropriated funds are depleted quickly.

Long-term recovery assistance

As ophthalmologists reopen offices to routine visits and elective surgery, pent-up demand for medical care will be huge. At the same time, physician practices will be working to recover from weeks or months of deep financial losses. Long-term recovery assistance will be critical.

  • Reduce the financial impact of cuts related to changes to evaluation and management codes scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Apply the evaluation and management payment increases to post-op visits in the global codes.
  • Extend through Dec. 31, 2021 a reprieve from a 2 percent Medicare budget sequestration cut that was included in the CARES Act to continue providing financial relief as physician practices resume normal operations.
  • End the current six-year physician payment freeze by implementing a positive physician update like those that other Medicare providers received in 2020.

Suspend prior authorization and step therapy requirements during the pandemic 

Under normal circumstances, requirements for prior authorization and step therapy delay medically necessary patient care. In a pandemic, these policies become an even bigger roadblock to patient care, as practices, operating with skeleton staffs, find it physically impossible to be on hold with a carrier for hours to obtain approval. And step therapy policies prevent physicians from making commonsense decisions such as switching patients to longer-acting drugs to protect them from unnecessary visits.

  • Urge CMS to instruct Medicare Advantage plans to suspend prior authorization and step therapy requirements during the pandemic.
  • Support H.R. 3107, the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act. This bipartisan bill aims to increase transparency and streamline the prior authorization process in the Medicare Advantage program.

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 3755
Newswise: New Landmark Study at UM School of Medicine Finds Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:40 PM EDT
New Landmark Study at UM School of Medicine Finds Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
University of Maryland Medical Center

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had a significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who were not taking aspirin, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:25 PM EDT
Tocilizumab doesn't ease symptoms or prevent death in moderately ill COVID-19 inpatients
Massachusetts General Hospital

The drug tocilizumab (Actemra) does not reduce the need for breathing assistance with mechanical ventilation or prevent death in moderately ill hospitalized patients with COVID-19, according to a new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:10 PM EDT
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that nursing homes "never needed" to accept patients who tested positive for COVID-19, but they did accept them

According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, "6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to [nursing home] facilities" following Cuomo's mandate that nursing homes accept the readmission of COVID-positive patients from hospitals. Therefore we rate his claim as false.

Released: 22-Oct-2020 2:10 PM EDT
U of M trial shows hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19 in health care workers
University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Medical School physician researchers studied hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to prevent COVID-19 for those with high-risk for exposure to the virus - health care workers.

Newswise: UNLV Physician: Why COVID-19 Makes Flu Shots More Important Than Ever
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:50 PM EDT
UNLV Physician: Why COVID-19 Makes Flu Shots More Important Than Ever
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

As the race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies, health care officials are reminding the public not to forget another important vaccine this fall: the flu shot. Flu season in the U.S. technically began in September, with illnesses expected to peak in December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Less than half of Americans received a flu vaccine during the 2019-2020 flu season, and a staggering 405,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths were attributed to influenza.

Newswise: 246630_web.jpg
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:45 PM EDT
Immune response the probable underlying cause of neural damage in COVID-19
University of Gothenburg

It is probably the immune response to, rather than the virus in itself, that causes sudden confusion and other symptoms from the nervous system in some patients with COVID-19. This is shown by a study of cases involving six Swedish patients, now published in the journal Neurology.

Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:35 PM EDT
COVID-19 study: Meaning in life and self-control protect against stress
University of Innsbruck

Numerous studies over the last few weeks have pointed out that the effects of the Corona pandemic on people's mental health can be enormous and affect large parts of the population.

Newswise: Hackensack Meridian CDI, University of Michigan Demonstrate Better, Faster COVID-19 Antibody Testing
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:30 PM EDT
Hackensack Meridian CDI, University of Michigan Demonstrate Better, Faster COVID-19 Antibody Testing
Hackensack Meridian Health

A new portable “lab on a chip,” developed by the U-M scientists and demonstrated with help of the CDI, can identify the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in blood donors with greater speed and efficiency

Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:10 PM EDT
Relieving the cost of COVID-19 by Parrondo's paradox
Singapore University of Technology and Design

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly across the globe at an alarming pace, causing considerable anxiety and fear among the general public.

Newswise: COVID-19 infection may be part of a ‘perfect storm’ for Parkinson’s disease
Released: 22-Oct-2020 1:00 PM EDT
COVID-19 infection may be part of a ‘perfect storm’ for Parkinson’s disease
Van Andel Institute

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Oct. 22, 2020) — Can COVID-19 infection increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease?

Showing results

110 of 3755