J Public Health Policy. 2020 Sep 25. doi: 10.1057/s41271-020-00256-9. Online ahead of print.
The United States Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) led to creation of the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as an expansion of reimbursements for telemedicine. CARES Act drafters over emphasized maintaining employment and overlooked negative downstream effects the policies had on outpatient clinics. The misalignment between this financial aid package and public health policy is most apparent in the pressure administrators face to maintain clinic operations, without a transition plan to adopt telemedicine and associated best practices. If this continues, the result will be suboptimal clinical practices and an increased risk of COVID-19 infection to both staff and patients. Particularly in times of crisis, financial aid packages should not be evaluated in isolation; policymakers should consider their implications for public health while designing, enacting, and implementing such measures.