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ACC Advocate

Promoting Strong Practices, Protecting Patient Access

Current Issue - August 29, 2014

Early Career Spotlight: As an early career professional, your involvement in ACC advocacy efforts is crucial, particularly when it comes to shaping future health care policies or providing fresh perspectives on how to address ongoing issues like physician payment, research funding and more. While meeting your member of Congress face-to-face, or navigating the many acronyms (what the heck is the ACA, SGR, CMS, HOPPS, PPSA?), can be daunting, your voice is incredibly important to the work of the ACC and to the cardiovascular profession as a whole. Your ACC, working with the Early Career Professionals Section Leadership Council, is committed to helping you become effective advocates by breaking down the issues into understandable chunks through efforts like this special monthly spotlight in the Advocate and the use of other early career communication channels.

Investing in the Future of Cardiology: One way to get involved with ACC's advocacy efforts early in your career is to become a member of ACC Political Action Committee (ACCPAC), which is dedicated to protecting the interests of cardiovascular professionals. ACC must have a seat at the table as Congress continues to debate and potentially enact laws affecting the practice of cardiovascular medicine. Through the bipartisan ACCPAC, ranked among the top 10 medical specialty PACs in the U.S., the College is able to support members of Congress and candidates who are supporters of the cardiovascular community. Becoming a member of ACCPAC by making a contribution is a direct investment in the future and preservation of our profession. No contribution is too small to further ACCPAC's efforts. You can make a single contribution or sign-up for a periodic contribution on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis by visiting ACCPACweb.org.

Don't Miss Out! The ACC's upcoming Legislative Conference, which will take place in Washington, DC, Sept. 14-16, offers an exciting opportunity to support ACCPAC. Each year ACCPAC hosts a special dinner on Sunday featuring famous political figures. This year, celebrated political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin will take the stage. The Sept. 14 event requires a separate registration and fee. To reserve your tickets or submit a question to ask Carville and Matalin, contact Kendra Adams.

Ensuring practice stability, one of the ACC's key advocacy prioritiesPDF, will be a hot topic during Legislative Conference. The ACC supports efforts that facilitate practice and provider stability, such as permanent repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR), continued patient access to in-office ancillary services, greater interoperability of health information technology, fair and accurate reimbursement for services, and medical liability reforms. The College also supports the development and implementation of new payment models that reward improved outcomes and prudent use of resources. While on Capitol Hill in a few weeks, ACC members will urge Congress to do the following:

  • Permanently repeal the SGR and replace the Medicare physician payment system with one that incentivizes the delivery of quality care for patients in every setting
  • Preserve the In-Office Ancillary Services Exception, which recognizes that a referral within a group practice promotes continuity of care in a setting that is best for the patient
  • Continue to promote and incentivize the use of electronic health records with an emphasis on interoperability
  • Work with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that there are continued efforts to eliminate programs, requirements and regulations that reduce patient care efficiencies within practice settings
  • Enact medical liability reforms that guarantee the protection of patients, improve provider-patient communications, and promote affordable and accessible liability protection, while adhering to successful reform efforts already in place at the state level

Be sure to download the new ACC Advocacy Action mobile app to get easy access to ACC's advocacy priorities and timely talking points to share during congressional visits. The app was designed to help you engage with lawmakers and influence health policy during Legislative Conference and throughout the year. Download it today on iTunes (iPhone, iPad) and Google Play (Android devices).

ACC Supports ACE Kids Act: This week, your ACC sent a letter of support for H.R. 4930PDF, the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act of 2014, legislation that would create nationally designated networks of physicians, children's hospitals and other providers to care for children with medical complexity under a Medicaid Children's Care Coordination program. The legislation, introduced by Reps. Joe Barton (R-6-TX) and Kathy Castor (D-14-FL), would facilitate more seamless care for children insured by Medicaid who see multiple providers across state lines. Co-sponsors are being sought for the bill, and the ACC has developed a model grassroots letter that members can use to ask their House Representatives to co-sponsor. To send a letter to your member of Congress, click here. A Senate version of the bill is being crafted but has not yet been introduced. The program, if passed by Congress and signed by the president, would be voluntary with state Medicaid agencies and providers "opting in" to reduce costs and paperwork burdens. Read more about this legislation.

CMS Test of Claims-Based Measures: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is conducting a national test for four new claims-based measures over the course of the next month. The test of coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) mortality and readmission measures will take place Sept. 2 to Oct. 1. A Hospital-Specific Report (HSR) for the measures will be available to hospitals and Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) by Sept. 2. CMS will conduct a test of the heart failure and pneumonia payment measures from Sept. 8 to Oct. 7, 2014. An HSR for the measures will be available to hospitals and QIOs by Sept. 8. CMS will hold two national provider calls to present the measures' methodology and address questions related to these measures on Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. ET for the CABG measures and Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. ET for the payment measures.

New Interventional Cardiology Specialty Designation: CMS has developed a new specialty codePDF (C3) for interventional cardiology to reflect its distinction from other specialties. Your ACC supported a request from the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) to obtain the new designation, which allows CMS to distinguish an interventional cardiologist from a clinical cardiologist when billing for Medicare services. Previously, no mechanism existed for CMS to accurately report on this category of physician, and some local Medicare carriers have denied claims, citing duplicate billing, when a cardiologist and an interventionalist from the same group practice have billed for patient evaluation services. The new code allows for the reporting of the involvement of two specialty physicians providing distinct services to an individual patient. Members can change their designation through updated enrollment using PECOS.

TMVR Coverage Finalized: CMS has posted the final national coverage decision for transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR). Your ACC joined with SCAI, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery to request coverage in November 2013 and commented on the proposed coverage in June recommending several revisions. The ACC is pleased that CMS responded positively to comments recommending deletion of its proposal to require joint intraoperative participation by both an interventional cardiologist and cardiac surgeon. TMVR will be covered when performed with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved device for the treatment of significant symptomatic degenerative mitral regurgitation when furnished according to an FDA-approved indication. The patient must be evaluated by an experienced cardiac surgeon and interventional cardiologist and remain under the care of a heart team at a high quality facility that reports data to a national registry. Either the interventional cardiologist or the cardiac surgeon may perform the procedure.

Curbing Smoking and Regulating E-Cigarettes: This week, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a policy statement on electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)PDF. In response, ACC President Patrick T. O'Gara, MD, FACC, took to the ACC in Touch Blog to commend the AHA for addressing this hot topic and stress the importance of expanding regulative authority over e-cigarettes. O'Gara stressed: "No well-controlled peer-reviewed studies support the claim that e-cigarettes are safe, that they have fewer long-term negative health effects than cigarettes, or that they are effective aids for smoking cessation." The ACC strongly believes that the FDA should regulate e-cigarettes to the full extent of the authority granted to it by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, including requiring manufacturers to submit applications for approval that contain rigorous scientific evidence of product safety. The College submitted commentsPDF to the FDA earlier this month regarding the need for increased regulation of e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah and other similar products that are currently not under the Agency's regulatory purview.