Weekly surveys conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network and the Robert Graham Center show COVID-19 has had a harsh financial impact on primary care practices, despite government aid.
Survey respondents reported extensive decreases in patient visits in 2020, with many saying they were 50% or more below normal levels, even with an expansion of telehealth visits. Under the fee-for-service payment model, such reductions caused severe financial strain.
Practices said they were forced to reduce hours, reduce salaries, or even implement layoffs or furloughs to cut costs.
The respondents reported that government aid through various COVID-related programs (such as Paycheck Protection Program loans and Provider Relief Fund grants) provided an immediate boost to their viability, but the open-ended nature of the pandemic made it hard to determine how long they could stay afloat.
The results highlight the need for ongoing financial solutions to address the pandemic’s effects, including payment reform, according to the study’s authors.
See the full study, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, here.
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