CMA praises Blue Shield of CA's efforts to ensure patients have access to care amid COVID-19 crisis

April 06, 2020

Contact: Anthony York (ayork@cmadocs.org)

Sacramento — The California Medical Association (CMA) Monday praised an announcement by Blue Shield of California that the health plan would provide up to $200 million in direct support to physician practices and other health care providers.

As thousands of physicians serve on the front lines treating COVID-19 patients, many physician practices have had to close their doors or reduce their office capacity by furloughing employees. These office closures threaten the ability of patients to see a physician when they need one and could have long-lasting harmful effects to provider networks long after the crisis is over.

Thousands of Californians have deferred their regular medical care over the last several weeks, creating a backlog of medical treatment that will be in high demand once the COVID-19 surge has passed. The steps announced by Blue Shield on Monday will help California brace for this “second surge” that California is expecting after the wave of COVID-19 cases has subsided.

“The actions announced by Blue Shield of California show a true commitment to the patients of California,” said CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr. M.D. “California needs to take additional steps now to ensure we have the physicians we need to deal with the second surge that will come when this crisis is over. We hope that other plans will follow suit and do their part to protect patient access to care during this unprecedented crisis, and that we are prepared for what comes next.”

Blue Shield also announced it is taking additional steps to remove administrative burdens for physicians including an extension of new and existing prior authorizations and acceleration of a pilot program to more in-network providers statewide that enables providers to receive the patient’s portion of the bill at the time the claim is paid, eliminating the time and expense for providers to collect patient out-of-pocket costs.

In a letter to Gov. Newsom last week, CMA asked the state to implore plans to help keep viable provider networks in place during and after the COVID-19 crisis, to meet their statutory responsibility to ensure patients have access to a physician when they need one.

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The California Medical Association represents the state’s physicians with more than 50,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties, and CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit CMAdocs.org, and follow CMA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.






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