More than three months after enactment of the landmark CARES Act, and more than two months after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act — their own “Phase 4” legislation — the Senate is finally taking steps to pass another major bill responding to the still raging COVID-19 pandemic. As the likely last chance to pass major legislation before the November elections, this bill is particularly vital for employers and health care purchasers seeking to stay financially stable and manage COVID-19 costs during the sharpest economic contraction since the Great Depression.
COVID-19’s long-term impact on U.S. health care remains unclear, but amid the ongoing turmoil and uncertainty, large employers see opportunities for much-needed reforms.
Like a wind-driven wildfire, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to flare and race across the U.S. and around the world, jumping firebreaks to threaten health and livelihoods and imperil long-term economic sustainability.
During the most challenging phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, one opportunity for the health care delivery system has been the rapid adoption of telehealth and virtual care by both primary care practices and patients. The Pacific Business Group on Health’s California Quality Collaborative (CQC) has hosted webinars to support and spread successful practices in virtual care for independent primary care practices and IPAs as they rapidly implemented telehealth technology and workflows.
As Congressional leaders begin to work out details of the final Phase 4 bill, PBGH will be engaging with congressional leaders on each of these topics, with a particular focus on strengthening the primary care system and preventing price spikes.
The unprecedented collapse in patient volume sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic could reshape health care for years to come, but whether those changes ultimately prove beneficial or destructive remains to be seen, experts say.
Already pervasive in the modern world, loneliness and social isolation are extending their reach deeper into the American workforce as the COVID-19 pandemic upends the routines and relationships of daily life. The physical distancing required to manage COVID-19 should not be confused with social distancing and isolation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected nearly 1 million people in the United States, killed tens of thousands, and is having an unprecedented negative effect on the country’s economy. It has also strained primary care providers to near the breaking point. Nearly half of independent primary care practices report that they are in danger of closing in the coming months due to a collapse in revenue. Primary care practice closures threaten patients’ access to health care during this pandemic and afterward.
Telehealth is quickly emerging as an important clinical tool for physicians scrambling to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both patients and physicians report being happy with treatment delivered via telehealth, but doctors say barriers to adoption still exist.
The health care provisions of COVID-19-related legislation to date have focused primarily on ensuring health care providers have the resources they need to treat the influx of affected patients. In addition, Congress has rightly taken steps to slow the spread of the virus, ensure that patients have access to needed tests and treatment, and protect workers and businesses from the collapsing economy.