Press Release: 2020-03-25
Breaking news on VCPR and COVID-19, plus other updates
In this unprecedented time, the AVMA is working diligently to provide timely information and useful resources to help you maintain business continuity and keep you and your teams safe and healthy. Below you will find information on breaking federal regulatory and legislative updates, as well as links to AVMA's most recent COVID-19 related resources we have developed to support you.
Use of telemedicine and the VCPR: Federal regulatory update
FDA has issued guidance, for immediate implementation, that temporarily suspends the enforcement of certain aspects of the federal veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) requirements. Those federal requirements apply to extralabel drug use, and the issuing of veterinary feed directives (VFD). The guidance acknowledges individual state VCPR requirements that may continue to exist, acknowledges current federal VCPR requirements related to in-person examinations or premises visits, and indicates suspension of requirements outlined in guidance are temporary measures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The AVMA continues to actively engage with Congress to advocate for veterinarians in the series of legislation being debated to help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The AVMA is providing policy recommendations to help veterinary small businesses navigate this difficult time, advocating for programs to support employees while also ensuring veterinary small businesses remain viable and operational during this uncertain period.
Congress is currently debating the third piece of federal COVID-19 relief legislation, in hopes of passing legislation early this week. Pressure is mounting on Congress to act, and once finalized the legislation could move quickly. We will update the AVMA website with information about the legislation as it passes. While a final bill is being debated, there are common themes coming from both parties that we can expect to be included in a final package. These include providing direct payments to individuals; expanding access to capital for small businesses to support their ability to continue to meet payroll; expanded unemployment insurance; application of relief to the self-employed; and the suspension of federal student loan repayment and interest accrual.
AVMA was actively involved in provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that passed last week. The final law includes new sick leave and family leave provisions and makes tax credits available to small businesses to help offset the cost. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor will issue guidance and emergency rules as a result of the legislation. It is expected to address the mechanism for small businesses to obtain rapid advances on the payroll tax credits as well as guidance about the criteria for exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees. We will post information to our website when those regulations are published.
AVMA Convention 2020 update
We know how vital in-person CE is to your professional development and meeting licensure requirements. That's why we're proceeding with plans for AVMA Convention 2020 to take place July 31-August 4 as scheduled. You'll soon be receiving your copy of the AVMA Convention First Glance which will give you a preview of what's to come. At the same time, your health and safety are always our first priority, so as new details emerge related to COVID-19, we'll continue to communicate with you, including any adjustments to the AVMA Convention 2020.
We understand this is an incredibly challenging time for all. COVID-19 continues to affect everyone's lives—both personally and professionally. The AVMA Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and staff remain committed to supporting you in the critical role you play in animal and public health. As always, the AVMA is here for you.
Continued member services
To ensure our staff can continue working on your behalf, the AVMA has enacted an employee work-from-home policy for our staff in Schaumburg, IL, and Washington, DC, through April 7. This will help us maintain recommended social distancing, as well as comply with the state-wide shelter-in-place order that affects our Illinois headquarters.
We have adapted the way we do our work by implementing multiple protocols and tools to maintain the member services you value. In doing so, we will be able to continue to provide the products and services that matter to you, including urgent updates and guidance as we work together to fight the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate, as best we can, its consequences.
Our member service representatives are always available to you and continue to be available by phone. However, as you may expect, these staff members are fielding an increased number of calls and wait times have increased. As a result, you may want to consider using online options for transactions as we work to address members' needs as quickly as possible. To support responses specifically related to COVID-19, we have also created an email address firstname.lastname@example.org. This email is monitored constantly by staff veterinarians in our Division of Animal and Public Health, and we encourage you to submit information, questions, and requests related to COVID-19 there.
Our staff continues to work tirelessly to gather, interpret, and share breaking information and create resources to help you and your teams. This information can be found at avma.org/Coronavirus. We understand this is an incredibly challenging time for all. COVID-19 continues to affect everyone's lives—both personally and professionally. The AVMA Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and staff remain committed to supporting you in the critical role you play in animal and public health. As always, the AVMA is here for you.