Congress approves emergency COVID-19 funding; telehealth for Medicare patients

March 12, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

Congress last week approved a $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus response funding package. The package, which was signed into law by President Trump on March 6, includes:

  • $3 billion+ for the development of treatments and a coronavirus vaccine
  • $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response
  • $300 million to ensure Americans will have access to the vaccine
  • $7 billion in low-interest loans to small businesses impacted by the epidemic

This funding for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and medical supplies is necessary to bolster the health care response to COVID-19.

The bill also authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive Medicare restrictions on providing telehealth services to seniors during this public health emergency. The California Medical Association (CMA) believes telehealth will be critical to help limit further exposure and help stop the spread of the virus in the health care setting and make sure seniors continue to have access to routine care doing the emergency.

CMA expects that there will be new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) any day now on this new telehealth expansion. We will forward it to physicians as soon as it becomes available.

CMA is working with the California Department of Health Services to ensure that California physicians can provide services via telehealth for Medi-Cal patients with coronavirus- or influenza-like symptoms.

CMA has also set up a COVID-19 resource page, where you will find links to the latest news, research and developments on the COVID-19 outbreak for physicians and other health care providers.


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