Imagine getting a test for coronavirus at the same time you get blood work or a physical at your doctor’s office.
There are over 700 primary care providers listed in Fresno county. — Fresno-Madera Medical Society
That may soon be a reality.
Los Angeles and Long Beach recently put out orders to that effect. Starting Friday, all primary care providers there must provide COVID-19 testing.
A similar order from the Fresno County Department of Public is expected in a few weeks.
The California Medical Association isn’t opposed to primary care doctors’ offices performing these tests but has many concerns about how it will work and who will pay for it.
Fresno Health Officer Order
The County believes the time has come to start coaching others in an effort to expand the pool of testing sites.
“This needs to be just one more type of test that’s offered by every primary provider in the county,” says Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer. “There’s no reason why physicians’ offices couldn’t offer this service.”
“There’s no reason why physicians’ offices couldn’t offer this service.” — Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer
Vohra says the order will carry weight, and make it the expectation that providers need to step up for the good of the community. He also thinks it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a statewide mandate.
The county says it will work with medical providers to make sure the new order fits their needs and the resources they have on hand.
“It should be something each primary care doctor can do in their setting for their patients,” Nicole Butler from the Fresno-Madera County Medical Society tells GV Wire℠ by phone. “It’s for established patients so they don’t have to sit in a car for six hours.”
Butler says there are more than 700 primary care providers listed in Fresno county.
Vohra expects to make his order official in mid-late August.
City of Long Beach Order
“Long Beach is committed to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to do everything we can to keep our community safe,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “I look forward to expanding on our testing capacity by adding all healthcare facilities to the list of locations at which individuals can get tested in Long Beach.”
Effective Friday, all healthcare facilities in Long Beach must provide testing to all symptomatic individuals as well as asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed or meet other criteria.
To date, Long Beach has conducted more than 115,000 COVID-19 tests through city-run sites, a state-run site, and private labs.
Long Beach Doctors Respond
“We’re basically on our own,” Myra Rosa with Dr. Stephanie S. Green’s office in Long Beach tells GV Wire℠ over the phone.
The city of Long Beach issued the Health Order last Thursday, but how the program is supposed to work is up in the air.
Green’s office tells GV Wire℠ the city of Long Beach has given them no extra money, no test kits, and no further guidance other than the press release issued last week.
“Parking is a huge concern,” says Rosa about the prospect of having to do more appointments than her office can handle.
County of Los Angeles Order
The recent L.A. County order requires healthcare providers to provide patients with access to COVID testing if they are symptomatic, are part of a public health investigation, or have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 infected person.
“Physicians, community health centers, and pharmacists cannot collect samples or process them without adequate supplies — including PPE, test kits, and reagents — which they currently do not have.” — California Medical Association
The order also encourages providers to bill private insurance plans for these services whenever possible. Patients are not allowed to be charged by their plan or provider for COVID-19 tests.
L.A. County officials believe that by obtaining testing through a patient’s regular provider network it will assure tailored clinical advice and good follow-up in the case of positive results.
Like Long Beach, this order takes effect on Friday.
California Medical Association
The California Medical Association issued a statement shortly after the state discussed guidance on testing by primary care providers.
While the CMA agrees adequate testing is a key component to getting the pandemic under control and reopening the state, the real issue is a lack of needed essentials, the association said.
“Physicians, community health centers, and pharmacists cannot collect samples or process them without adequate supplies — including PPE, test kits, and reagents — which they currently do not have,” reads part of a CMA statement.