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ACC Advocate

Promoting Strong Practices, Protecting Patient Access

Current Issue - July 18, 2014

Dive Into the Physician Fee Schedule and Hospital Outpatient Rules: The recently released proposed rules for Medicare payment and quality provisions for physicians and hospital outpatient services in 2015 will have important ramifications for cardiovascular professionals. Get an overview of issues of critical importance to cardiologists during an ACC webinar on Aug. 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT). Your input during the webinar will help shape ACC's comments, which will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) later this summer. In recent weeks, ACC Advocacy staff members have carefully reviewed both proposed rules and have developed detailed summaries highlighting important provisions for cardiology. Read the Proposed 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Summary and the Proposed 2015 Hospital Outpatient Summary. The final rules are expected in November. Stay tuned to The Advocate for updates.

Sunshine Act Report Preview Period Opens: Physicians and teaching hospitals can now review reports of the payments they received from industry between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013, before the reports are made public on Sept. 30. Under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Open Payments Program), payments to physicians and teaching hospitals must be reported by manufacturers and distributers of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved products prescribed to patients and paid for by one of the federal health care programs. Physicians and teaching hospitals will have until Aug. 27 to preview and dispute information contained within the reports. After the close of the 45-day period, there is an additional 15-day period that physicians and teaching hospitals can use to continue to work with industry to resolve disputes. To preview your report, you must first create an account through the CMS Enterprise Portal, a system designed to verify your identity. You must then register specifically with the Open Payments System. Learn more and get tips for successfully registering on CardioSource.org. Join CMS for a Sunshine Act call on July 22 at 2:30 p.m. to get details on next steps and how the program will impact you.

Fighting for Stricter Regulation: Earlier this year, the FDA proposed a new rule that would extend its authority to cover electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and additional tobacco products. The extension is part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009, which granted the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. According to the proposal, the additional tobacco products that would be "deemed" to be subject to FDA regulation are those that meet the statutory definition of a tobacco product, including currently unregulated marketed products, such e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, waterpipe (or hookah) tobacco, and dissolvables not already under the FDA's authority. While this is a step in the right direction, the ACC and its allies do not believe that the proposal extends far enough and could undo any gains made at the federal and state level. In a fight to reduce tobacco-related deaths, your ACC plans to submit comments to the FDA in the coming weeks. In addition to the College's comments, a number of ACC chapters have submitted letters calling for the FDA to strictly regulate e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. You can submit individual comments through Aug. 8 via a webpage created by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Weighing in on EHRs: The ACC is a long-time supporter of electronic health record (EHR) adoption as a driver of improved patient care quality. Because improper EHR implementation can negatively affect the quality of patient care as much as continued reliance on paper records, your ACC recently submitted commentsPDF on the notice of proposed rulemaking regarding modifications to the EHR Incentive Program for 2014 and revisions to the definition of certified EHR technology. The College recommends that CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology delay implementation of Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Program; issue a final rule as quickly as possible; grant participants as much flexibility as is feasible; and allow all eligible professionals and hospitals to meet Stage 1 requirements for 2014.

ACC Supports Increased Funding of NIH: Last week, your ACC endorsed the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act, legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Because of funding restraints imposed on the NIH by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the NIH has been unable to predict or sustain growth. This legislation, which is expected to be introduced later in July, would allow for an adjustment for NIH above the cap and would essentially restore the purchasing power the NIH would have had if funding had kept pace with inflation since 2003. By endorsing the legislation through its participation in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Constituency Group, the ACC joined dozens of other organizations in supporting the legislation.

Grassroots Snapshot: ACC Political Action Committee (PAC) Board Member and Women in Cardiology Chair Sandy Lewis, MD, FACC, recently had the opportunity to join House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) for an intimate reception in her home state of Oregon. During the event, Lewis had a chance to speak directly with both legislators on issues affecting cardiovascular care, such as the Sustainable Growth Rate and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grants, and hear first-hand what they believe will be on the congressional agenda in the coming months. Boehner offered his outlook for the remainder of this Congress leading up to the elections, while Walden was particularly enthusiastic in discussing the Energy and Commerce Committee's 21st Century Cures Initiative, which is focused on exploring and streamlining the process for bringing new treatments from research and development to approval.

Recalibrating the MOC Process: Your ACC has continued to engage the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in advocating for modifications to the revised requirements for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Since our last ACC member communication, ABIM President Richard Baron, MD, has shared with the ACC and other professional societies preliminary process changes adopted by the ABIM Board during their June retreat. Learn more about the MOC changes and ACC resources.

Where is the ACC Heading? In a recent Leadership Page in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ACC CEO Shalom Jacobovitz discusses where the College is heading, and explains how the PINNACLE Registry is a model program, embodying the College's strategic objectives centering on the triple aim of high-quality, appropriate and cost-effective care. Jacobovitz notes that implementation of the College's Strategic Plan includes "careful and thoughtful looks at the products we build and the programs and activities we undertake in order to ensure that they are: providing the greatest member value; supporting purposeful education; moving us toward transformation of care; positioning us as effective advocates; contributing to improvements in population health; and maximizing data to inform research and opportunities to improve outcomes."