COVID-19 Reality: Medical Groups Face Financial Meltdown While Their Communities Face Devastating Loss of Access to Health Care
“We have to survive! There aren't others in this region who can step in and fill our patients' needs in the near future."
Alexandria, VA – Independent medical groups are running out of cash and many will go broke by summer without significant financial assistance from the federal government, according to a survey of independent medical groups conducted by AMGA.
Nearly all of the 42 responding groups reported sharp declines in monthly revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 60 percent said they will deplete their cash reserves within two months. Physicians in nearly all of the groups have taken pay cuts, and about a third of the groups’ physicians are providing uncompensated care to assist local hospitals.
The survey of 82 independent, physician-owned medical groups—multispecialty group practices not affiliated with a hospital—was conducted April 10-14 by AMGA.
The lost revenue is largely the result of medical groups eliminating non-essential surgeries and procedures and instructing patients to stay home to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.
“We all will keep our doors open as long as possible during this crisis to continue to care for our patients remotely or in-person for the most acute. But without immediate financial support, medical groups will struggle to survive,” said Karen Weiner, MD, CEO at Oregon Medical Group.
Independent medical groups play an important role in their communities in providing care to thousands of patients and in many cases serving as one of the largest employers. The survey shines a light on how the COVID-19 pandemic threatens their viability to meet their communities’ ongoing needs. About half of the survey respondents reported they supply more than 25 percent or more of their community’s medical services, with one-fourth saying they provide 50 percent or more.
"SIMEDHealth is the largest independent medical practice in north central Florida, with almost 500 employees and 90,000 unique patients. While we plan to survive this crisis, there are no guarantees,” stated Daniel M. Duncanson, M.D., CPE, CEO at SIMEDHealth. “We have to survive! There aren't others in this region who can step in and fill our patients' needs in the near future."
Fred Horton, president of AMGA Consulting, detailed the finances: “The $30 billion allocated for health care providers in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides medical groups a one-time cash infusion of about $10,000 per physician,” Horton explained. “The average medical group has expenses (staff and overhead, but not including physician compensation) of about $33,000 per physician per month. This means even before paying the physicians, the practice will lose $23,000 per physician in the first month relief is received. If no more relief is forthcoming, the losses will grow to $33,000 per physician per month, or about $20 million for a 200-member practice over three-month period.”
“While we greatly appreciate the financial support Congress and the administration have provided to date, the reality is that the initial relief is only a drop in the bucket compared to the lost revenue and ongoing expenses of the average medical group,” stated AMGA President and CEO Jerry Penso, M.D., M.B.A..“Without more financial assistance from the federal government, many independent medical groups will no longer be able to operate, putting the health of their communities in peril.”
AMGA is a trade association leading the transformation of health care in America. Representing multispecialty medical groups and integrated systems of care, we advocate, educate, innovate, and empower our members to deliver the next level of high performance health. AMGA is the national voice promoting awareness of our members’ recognized excellence in the delivery of coordinated, high-quality, high-value care. More than 175,000 physicians practice in our member organizations, delivering care to one in three Americans.
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