Coronavirus Cases Steadily Rise in L.A. County | COVID-19 testing continues to be a major problem facing our community. Coronavirus has hit communities of color exceptionally hard. The questions loom large: Who does the testing? Do providers get reimbursed? What is the federal government’s involvement? State government’s involvement? This feels like adding insult to injury for both providers and patients. The public needs to be tested and certainly not by urgent care centers providing inadequate testing. Antibody testing is not the recommended test for acute diagnosis of COVID-19 which should still be done via PCR testing at present.
After conversations with local organizations, like AltaMed Health Services, who are literally on the front lines when it comes to testing in hot zones throughout the county, one must ask why isn’t the effort more coordinated? Supported? Financed?
Los Angeles County health officials issued a dire warning today that conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation’s most populous county are deteriorating rapidly and the highly contagious virus is spreading swiftly in the community. They said they are now faced with one of their biggest fears: that the reopening of L.A. County would coincide with sudden jumps in disease transmission that have the potential to overwhelm public and private hospitals. L.A. County has long been the epicenter of coronavirus in California — with nearly 98,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,300 deaths — but officials said today that outbreak is worsening. Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, said that new data shows “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.”
My fear is that PPEs were and remain the constant challenge for providers but adequate and funded testing is at a breaking point and demands action.
Honoring Dr. Sion Roy's Leadership
As we enter this surreal summer holiday, I hope that all physicians, their families, patients and communities are safe and well. July 4th is a time to celebrate safely. I’d like to take the opportunity to honor Dr. Sion Roy who has been our LACMA president this past year. Under Shy’s leadership, LACMA grew in membership (now the second-largest county medical association in the US with 7,000 members). Dr. Roy provided trust, leadership and inspired the organization to break new ground when it came to civic engagement via the Docs4LA initiative. He led the effort for LACMA to rapidly respond to COVID-19 in terms of funding, resources, and getting leadership on the same page to help solo and small practices with the PPEs and funding they desperately needed and continue to need. He supported the next phase in crisis response to help minority and women-owned medical practices; hard hit with supply chain challenges, staffing and resource needs. Dr. Roy’s impact over 12 months will be felt for years to come as LACMA has reached a new tempo that delivers value to physicians every day.
Thank you, Dr. Roy!
Opting Out of the 2020 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Program
Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that physicians will have the option to opt out completely or partially from Medicare’s 2020 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program.
To opt out, physicians will need to apply for a hardship exemption and indicate on the application that it is due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Individual clinicians and group practices have until December 31, 2020, to complete the hardship application.
On the application, you can request the reweighting of one or more MIPS performance categories due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency. For example, you can indicate that you do not want to be scored on Cost and Quality and have your score calculated based on just Promoting Interoperability and Improvement Activities. Alternatively, practices can opt-out of all four performance categories and be held harmless from a 2022 payment adjustment.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
– Zig Ziglar
Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles County Medical Association
“If it matters to our LACMA members, it matters to me.”