Guidance on Testing Options
This web page provides members with information on who to test, access and availability, types of tests, specimen collection, testing laboratory guidance, and coding and billing.
Resources for Retired Physicians Returning to Practice
This resource walks retired and inactive physicians through some basic information to consider, and questions to ask, if they are considering volunteering to provide care in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Providing Care Outside Typical Practice Setting
The AAFP has developed a resource to assist physicians being asked to provide patient care in settings outside of their current practice in response to the COVID-19 emergency. This resource includes questions to ask and steps for physicians to take to protect themselves professionally.
Updated 5/6/21: Vaccine Coverage Requirements and Preliminary Payment Guidance
The federal government is buying and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to physician practices, health systems, or other vaccine providers. As a result, Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers will not pay for the vaccine supply itself for the foreseeable future. This summary outlines requirements for various payers to cover vaccine administration and other related services, both during the public health emergency (PHE) and after it ends.
CMS has updated policies regarding Medicare telehealth services to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes telehealth, virtual care and e-visits.
CMS Offers Reporting Relief
As outlined in a new FPM blog post, CMS is again offering QPP data reporting relief, but this time it's not automatic. Practices participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) that are significantly affected by the public health emergency had the opportunity to apply for the Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Exception by February 1, 2021. CMS will notify you by email if your request was approved or denied. Get answers to frequently asked questions here. Practices that did not receive an Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances exception must submit data for the 2020 performance year by March 31, 2021.
UnitedHealthcare, Cigna Modify 2021Telehealth Payment Policies
As of January 1, 2021, UnitedHealthcare (UHC) made changes to its commercial plans that include services eligible for payment, use of modifiers, and requirements for telehealth services to be recognized under UHC guidelines. UHC’s new policy also addresses other forms of clinician-patient electronic communication. Read more details.
Cigna also made payment policy changes for virtual care services provided by its commercial plans effective January 1. Changes announced include services eligible for payment, use of modifiers, and other requirements that must be met for services to qualify for payment. In addition, Cigna’s new policy covers other types of electronic communication between patients and clinicians. Find out more.
Both insurers instituted the new policies in recognition of patients’ and clinicians’ continuing desire for safe and convenient care options amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Private Payer FAQs and Policies
The AAFP is closely monitoring private payer policies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and has compiled a list of frequently asked questions based on information from each payer’s respective website.
Private Payer Advocacy
In late October 2020, the AAFP wrote to Anthem, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare to urge them to extend their expanded telehealth policies established during the public health emergency (PHE) period. The AAFP asked these payers to extend and support the following policies through at least the end of the PHE:
Using Telehealth to Provide Care During Pandemic
Telemedicine and virtual care have quickly become important tools in meeting your patients’ needs. Access the latest information and resources to equip your practice to provide telehealth services.
Download the Free AAFP Telehealth Toolkit
One particularly powerful tool to help members provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic is “A Toolkit to Build and Grow a Sustainable Telehealth Program in Your Practice,” a comprehensive, free AAFP resource that covers the major issues you’re likely to see as you launch a sustainable telehealth program in your practice.
General Provider Telehealth Toolkit
CMS has developed a telehealth and telemedicine toolkit for primary care that provides an overview of the telehealth guidance and regulatory updates.
More Flexible Policies
UnitedHealthcare has added flexibility to its telehealth policies to make it easier for patients to connect with their family physician. UHC will waive member cost-sharing for COVID-19-related visits.
HIPAA Eases Technology Restrictions
Physicians can now use apps that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, and Skype, to provide telehealth without risk of penalty.
Selecting Telehealth Technology
View the telehealth platforms members are using in private practice and see the questions that can help you when exploring a telehealth platform.
The Difference Between Virtual Visits
The new blog post "A virtual visit algorithm: how to differentiate and code telehealth visits, e-visits, and virtual check-ins" can help you assign reimbursement codes. It outlines four types of virtual visits and the algorithm as a quick way for physicians to tell these services apart.
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 Exposure: Comply by July 6
OSHA released new, COVID-specific requirements to protect employees in health care settings. Employers have 14 days from when it was posted to the federal register to comply, with some exceptions. Find more information, including a plan template and FAQ.
Considerations on Reopening Your Practice
The AAFP has created a practice reopening checklist to help physicians make decisions on how and when to resume in-person visits. As more evidence becomes available, the AAFP will update our guidance.
Resetting Your Priorities in Family Medicine Post-Pandemic
Read this FPM journal article to learn a three-part exercise aimed at helping you reallocate your practice time based on your priorities.
Contact Tracing Guidance for Family Medicine
Contact tracing is a core disease control measure. The AAFP's contact tracing guidance outlines contact tracing basics and how it will impact family medicine practices.
Physician Employment Considerations
As practices, hospitals, and health care systems review and adjust staffing levels and compensation due to lost revenue, your employer may wish to modify your contract. The AAFP has prepared information and questions to assist you in navigating your employment issues.
Point of Care Testing
The AAFP Point-of-Care Testing Policy emphasizes that family physicians should have access to accurate and reliable point-of-care testing to expand patient access and improve care management.
Addressing Non-urgent Care Needs
The AAFP statement, Guidance for Family Physicians on Preventive and Non-Urgent Care, provides support to members making recommended changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ensuring Proper Protection
This AAFP position statement on personal protective equipment (PPE) provides support to members to ensure they are properly protected when treating patients during this pandemic.
Physician Office Preparedness Checklist
This resource outlines the necessary steps to protect your practice and patients. It was recently revised to include telehealth guidance, strategies to optimize personal protective equipment and definitions for self-monitoring, isolation and quarantine.
Free Resource: Physician Support Line
The Physician Support Line is a national and confidential support line service made up of 600+ volunteer psychiatrists who offer peer support for physician colleagues during the epidemic. Open 7 days a week; no appointment is necessary.
Nurture Your Well-being
Dr. Kimberly Becher shares why patient care during COVID-19 shouldn't imperil your well-being in her Fresh Perspectives blog.
4 Quick Stress Management Tips
Physicians must devote special attention to self-care during times of crisis. This FPM Quick Tips blog post, “Four principles for handling stress during a crisis,” aims to help you support your own well-being.
Decreasing Stress and Anxiety
The AAFP offers a list of resources to help you, your team, your patients, and your family manage stress during this pandemic.
Webcast: Managing the COVID-19 Crisis
Find out how you can care for the emotional health of all stakeholders in patient care (including yourself) with the free on demand webinar Maintaining the Emotional Health of You, Your Team, and Your Patients.
Speaker: Psychologist Nancy Ruddy, Ph.D. | Approved for 1 AAFP Prescribed Credit.
Earn CME for Physician Well-Being during Pandemic
This course, Physician Well-being in the Time of the Pandemic, offers skill-building to alleviate the stress and cope with the trauma experienced while providing care to patients.
Resources to Support Your Family
Balancing supporting your families, patients, and teams amid COVID-19 is a challenge. This list of resources can help with child care while most schools and day cares are closed and offers a set of online resources to support the education and entertainment of kids at home.
Ways to Reduce Home Exposure Risks
The new Protecting the Health and Safety of Your Household provides guidance on limiting the risk to your family when you return home at the end of your workday.
Free Therapy for COVID-19 Frontline Clinicians
This online teletherapy program matches volunteer therapists to frontline healthcare workers.
A Lifeline for Your Practice
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjunction with state governors, is working to provide targeted, low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses. Learn more about the SBA's COVID-19 related resources, or visit the SBA website to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
More Resources from the AAFP on Financial Relief
The Financial Relief for Family Physicians page breaks down available financial relief programs like the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund and the COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal.