COVID-19 threatens to close physician offices nationwide

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The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a cash crunch for primary care physician practices and forcing some to lay off employees and others to close, according to the Los Angeles Times

Primary care physicians are counseling patients who may have COVID-19 and helping keep patients out of hospitals that are already struggling with a surge of patients. As the virus continues to spread, many physician practices are telling patients to stay home to avoid exposure for themselves and medical staff. 

Primary care physicians are increasingly turning to telehealth to counsel patients who may have COVID-19 and to treat patients with other ailments. Reimbursement for online visits is often 30 percent less than in-person appointments, creating financial stress for many physicians, according to Bloomberg.

In California, one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19, some physician practices have already closed, and widespread closures nationwide may be less than six weeks away, Shawn Martin, senior vice president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Los Angeles Times

If physician practices close because of financial stress, more patients will end up in hospitals that are already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Times

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