By JEFF LIVINGSTON, MD
Imagine a country where you can not see a doctor. Who will refill your blood pressure prescription, see your sick child, mend your broken arm, deliver your baby, or run the ventilator if you fall victim to Coronavirus? The COVID-19 pandemic created a cash-flow crisis causing mass physician layoffs and closure of medical practices. A world without doctors puts us all at risk. The pandemic is the invisible enemy, and the CEOs of large insurance companies have the tools to help doctors stay in the fight.
Our government, healthcare providers, and individuals are doing our part to flatten the curve of the pandemic. It is time for the insurance industry to take massive action to salvage the US health system.
Practices are closing already. Tenet Health care announced a $250 million dollar reduction effective March 27, 2020. Other large and small health systems are implementing drastic cost-cutting measures. Data reported in USA Today, an estimated 60,000 family practices will close and 800,000 of their employees will lose their jobs by the end of June.
Practices cannot survive the COVID-19 cash flow crisis
By JEFF LIVINGSTON, MD
Will doctors be able to keep their practices open during the worst pandemic in our lifetime? Our country needs every available doctor in the country to fight the challenges of Covid-19. Doctors working in independent practices face an immediate cash flow crisis threatening their ability to continue services.
The CARES Act was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. The law offers much-needed help to the acute needs of hospitals and the medical supply chain. This aid will facilitate the production of critical supplies such as ventilators and PPE. The law failed to consider the needs of the doctors who will run the ventilators and wear the masks.
Cash flow crisis
Private-practice physician groups experienced an unprecedented reduction in in-office visits as they moved to provide a safe and secure environment for patients and staff. In compliance with CDC guidelines, practices suspended preventative care, nonurgent visits, nonemergent surgery, and office procedures.
These necessary practice changes help keep patients safe and slow the spread of Covid-19. The unintended consequence is an unreported and unrecognized cash flow crisis threatening the viability of physician practices.