AAOS Advocates for NIH Funding, Congress Continues Work on Health Care
For questions or concerns on these or other advocacy issues, contact the Office of Government Relations at dc@aaos.org.
AAOS Leadership Meets with HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD

AAOS Senior Manager Catherine Boudreaux; AAOS President William J. Maloney, MD; HHS Secretary Thomas E. Price, MD; AAOS Medical Director Will Shaffer, MD; AAOS CEO Thomas E. Arend, Jr., Esq., CAE; & AAOS Office of Government Relations Director Graham Newson

Last month, leadership of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons met with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, MD to discuss reducing the regulatory burden on physicians and protecting small and solo practices throughout the country.

AAOS Urges Congress to Fund Medical Research, NIH AAOS is currently urging Congress to continue funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), which was established in 1992 to foster novel approaches to biomedical research in response to the expressed needs of its stakeholders: the American public, military, and Congress. Each year, orthopaedic researchers across the country—using the Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program (PRORP), funded from the CDMRP—work on groundbreaking research to aid our men and women in the military who have sustained potentially life threatening or life altering extremity injuries. This type of research, which also translates to the civilian trauma population, could not exist without this needed funding. Unfortunately, provisions that could essentially end the CDMRP have been inserted into legislation to be considered on the Senate floor in the next month. It is critically important that you contact your Senator immediately to tell them how harmful this language would be to the future of our military readiness. Click here to take action! Click here to read more.
Despite Failed Vote, Congress Continues Work on Health Care In a narrow 51-49 vote, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Health Care Freedom Act—the so-called “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that among other things would have eliminated the ACA’s individual and employer mandates, removed a tax on medical devices for three years, and granted states more flexibility in obtaining ACA waivers. Proponents of the bill had expected to turn it over to a House-Senate conference committee to forge a compromise measure. Some critics of the bill stated that they would not support it without assurances that the U.S. House of Representatives would not vote on it outright.

Now, members of Congress are discussing working together to address ACA markets and premiums. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced they will hold hearings on the issue, while in the House a bipartisan “Problem Solvers” caucus is looking at a number of policy solutions.

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Legislators Introduce Bill to Expand Telemedicine Coverage, Approve Stark Measure and Military Trauma Legislation On July 27, two members of the House Energy and Commerce telehealth working group introduced the Evidence-Based Telehealth Expansion Act of 2017, which would encourage the use of telemedicine in the Medicare program. Specifically, the bill, sponsored by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary power to waive Medicare restrictions on what telemedicine it covers if the service improves quality of care or reduces costs. Advocates are hoping the bill could be attached to legislation reauthorizing CHIP and certain Medicare programs set to expire at the end of September. Congress is expected to take up such a bill after its August recess. Bill text can be found here. Click here to read more.
State Corner – Texas Orthopaedic Association Successfully Advocates for Patient-Reported Outcomes, Scoliosis Screenings, Visiting Sports Team Physicians Texas is the first state legislature to pass legislation related to patient-reported outcomes (PROs).  SB 55 (Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo and Rep. JD Sheffield, DO, R-Gatesville) will direct the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) to determine whether collecting PROs for musculoskeletal care within the system could enhance the care provided to millions of Texans.  SB 55 was signed on June 15th, 2017. TOA educated lawmakers on the concept of how PROs may serve as a better judge of quality, as opposed to the current quality measures that measure hard endpoints, such as complications, clinical processes, and costs. PROs have the ability to measure whether a treatment increased mobility and decreased pain, which are the two goals of musculoskeletal care. Click here to read more.
Quality Payment Program Updates The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) ended the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) then replaced it with the Quality Payment Program. Remember – the Quality Payment Program has two tracks you can choose: Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) OR the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). AAOS has shared the details of QPP and MIPS, which can be found on our website, here: www.aaos.org/MACRA_QualityPaymentProgram/ and here: www.aaos.org/MACRA-DeliveryReform/.

On June 20, CMS released a proposed rule that would make changes in the second year of the Quality Payment Program, including participation requirements for 2018. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has been working closely with CMS to address a number of concerns related to the Quality Payment Program, including the need for additional flexibility and simplification, as well as protection for small, solo, and rural practices. In this proposed rule, CMS has taken significant steps to respond to these concerns, and AAOS will be providing CMS with further comments by the August 21 deadline.

For any questions or comments related to this proposed rule, please email macra@aaos.org.

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Don’t Forget! 5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Get Ready for New Medicare Cards

Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), this initiative will prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect essential program funding and the private healthcare and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries. CMS will issue new Medicare cards with a new unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) both on the cards and in various CMS systems in use now. New cards will be mailed to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019. Click here to read more.

Political Graphic of the Week

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What We’re Reading

Health Care Failure Takes a Political Toll on Trump, GOP Lawmakers, Morning Consult, 8/2/17 Senate Republicans Seek to Move Past GOP-Only Health Debate, Bloomberg, 8/1/17 Health IT Groups Weigh in On ONC’S Interoperability Measurement Framework, Fierce Healthcare, 8/1/17 Some Insurers Seek ACA Premium Increases of 30% and Higher, The Wall Street Journal, 8/1/17 Republicans in Congress Bypass Trump to Shore Up Health Law, The New York Times, 8/1/17 Insurers Outline Actions HHS Can Take to Bolster Marketplaces Without Congress, Modern Healthcare, 8/1/17 Medical Boards Ring Up Big Margins By Charging Doctors High Exam Fees, Stat News, 8/1/17 CA Exchange Announces Rate Hikes Amid Uncertainty About Insurer Payments, Washington Examiner, 8/1/17 Obamacare Repeal: Now What? The Hill, 7/28/17 How McCain Tanked Obamacare Repeal, Politico, 7/28/17 Anthem Seeks Clarity from Health Law Debate, The Wall Street Journal, 7/26/17 Conservative Lawmakers Press Brady for Tax Reform Details, Morning Consult, 7/26/17

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