Dear MSPS Members,
I sincerely hope that this message finds you all well and doing your best to cope and to manage the current COVID-19 crisis that has hit our nation and the world. We have all been affected by this crisis in many different and unprecedented ways in both our professional roles as physicians as well as within our communities and our families. Many of us have had to scale back our practices to emergency or urgent care only for the time being, with a transition to telemedicine where possible to increase patient and staff safety. Many of our children are returning home from colleges which have closed or are staying home from schools in our communities until the current crisis passes. And many of us have been personally touched by this crisis with illness in our family members or ourselves.
I do not wish to burden any of you further with an additional message when we are all being inundated daily with new updates as the information continues to roll in from our national and state leaders, from the CDC, from our hospitals and amongst our peers. However, I participated in a conference call for state society leadership with our ASPS President Lynn Jeffers last night, and I would like to share with you some initiatives which have been undertaken by the ASPS which may bear directly on your professional lives at this difficult time. If you receive the news feeds from ASPS, you may already be aware of these.
First of all, if you are in a position to donate any PPE or other needed medical equipment, such as ventilators, the ASPS is now coordinating with FEMA to supervise a clearinghouse for these supplies, which will be collected by the federal government and distributed by them to areas in need. Alternatively, as many of us have already done, you can donate them locally to hospitals in Massachusetts. ASPS is also reaching out to the congressional leadership with two letters which specifically request financial relief measures for practicing surgeons hit hard by the current shutdowns of our ORs as well as legal protections for physicians whose normal mode of practice has been impacted by the crisis. Specifically, these measures include payroll tax relief and direct financial relief for small business owners, Good Samaritan protections for providers offering emergency care even across state lines, protections for retired physicians or those working outside of their normal scope of practice during this national health crisis, and safeguards from frivolous lawsuits for Telehealth care being rendered during this period. It also requests several measures which will ensure meaningful physician participation in Medicare, such as a waiver of the budget neutrality requirements for final E/M until 2026 and a fix of the E/M coding oversight, including reimbursement during surgery global periods. Finally, ASPS is providing links to Headspace, a guided meditation website, which is offering free services for any members interested in participating during the current crisis.
Please stay strong, stay safe, and stay whole. Hope to see you all soon in person at our next meeting!