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COVID-19: How MSMS is Supporting Physicians on the Frontline

COVID-19: How MSMS is Supporting Physicians on the Frontline

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

MSMS wants to keep you updated as leadership and staff continue to advocate for and support physicians and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following meaningful strides toward addressing the growing challenges of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), MSMS Chief Executive Officer Julie Novak outlines MSMS’s strategic work below. 


MSMS prepared resources for members well in advance of Governor Whitmer’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, which directed all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directed Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family.  


In early March, MSMS swiftly developed an online resource for its members: http://MSMS.org/COVID19. This microsite includes MSMS original content and key updates from several sources including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), American Medical Association (AMA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and many more. Physicians may access a variety of tools and resources such as financial relief package information, human resources information, posters and handouts, HIPAA and billing guidance, and latest best practices. 


General federal and state advocacy

  • Signed joint letter with the American Medical Association to ensure help for physicians in sustaining practices and delivering safe, quality patient care was included in federal “stimulus” legislation.
  • Called on state and federal Administrations to use every lever to address protective equipment (PPE) needs and lack of COVID-19 tests, reinforcing to Governor Whitmer and President Trump that a lack of PPE for health care workers is “unacceptable.”
  • Advocated with the Michigan Health Information Network (MIHIN) in support of a state funding proposal to provide a free telehealth platform for physicians.
  • Worked with the physician community and the Administration to provide input on the following Executive Orders:
    • Executive Order 2020-17: MSMS helped provide a definition of elective surgeries.
    • Executive Order 2020-25: MSMS provided guidance on the safest way to issue emergency refills, including ensuring an effort is made by the pharmacist to contact the prescriber. 
    • Executive Order 2020-30: MSMS supported granting provider immunity and made suggestions that any scope of practice expansion be done in consultation with the medical leadership team. 
  • Ongoing communications with the Administration and state legislators regarding challenges facing physicians on the frontline, as well as economic impact on those who are doing their part to minimize patient exposure to the virus by postponing elective visits and procedures.
  • Advocating for state and federal dollars to be earmarked for direct financial support to physicians and their practices.

Providing clear, evidence-based guidance:

  • Connecting MSMS leaders with the Governor’s Office and other Administration officials.
  • Ongoing communications with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) regarding communication on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine prescribing that recognizes evolving U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance and the need to leave room for clinical judgement.
  • Continuously updating MSMS COVID-19 microsite with most recent guidance from the CDC, CMS, DEA, FDA, MDHHS, and others.

Removing obstacles to diagnosis and treatment

  • Mobilized a dramatic increase in Michigan’s telemedicine capacity through its advocacy and collection of telehealth resources (including MSMS’s Legal Alert, Telemedicine Resource Guide, Coding Alert, catalog of available vendors and How to Bill webinar) -- all now available on http://MSMS.org/COVID19.
  • Submission of several grants seeking funding to assist physicians with the cost of implementing telehealth through a vendor platform. 
  • Developed a comprehensive payer comparison detailing billing policy for telehealth, coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment and any other useful information such as incentives and administrative relief -- available on http://MSMS.org/COVID19.
  • Issuing Reimbursement Advocate Alerts multiple times per week to keep practices up-to-date on the latest payer policy changes.
  • Querying Michigan’s health plans regarding telehealth payments and advocating for telehealth equity.
  • Developed a comprehensive “Coding Alert” on reimbursement policies for COVID-19 testing, treatment and telemedicine which is being updated continuously.
  • Ongoing payer advocacy to reduce administrative burdens for physicians and their patients.
  • Sharing Michigan’s Small Business Relief Program and the AMA’s new practice solvency resource

Practice advocacy and resources continue to be a priority for MSMS and staff is working remotely to support physicians during these unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, MSMS and our county medical society partners appreciate the incredible work and dedication of physicians. Thank you for your membership.