AAOS Advocacy in Action

In addition to leading a letter of support for H.R. 8702 from the orthopaedic community (see news item below), AAOS signed onto a letter of support from 20+ surgical specialty groups and one from 70+ organizations from the broader medical specialty community. 
Asked Congress to pass a statutory delay of the Appropriate Use Criteria program so that stakeholders can reach a better, more feasible and less burdensome approach to encouraging advanced diagnostic imaging.
Urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to immediately implement and pay for CPT code 9907, which is used to compensate practices for additional supplies and new staff activities related to the public health emergency.
The Bone Beat New Episode
Conversations on health policy issues affecting musculoskeletal care…

Regulatory Landscape of Orthobiologics
Orthobiologics are increasingly being marketed and used to improve patient outcomes, but the requirements for evidence of safety and effectiveness vary greatly. Leaders from the AAOS Committee on Devices, Biologics & Technology discuss the regulatory landscape, the AAOS Biologics Initiative, and the Academy’s investment in this evolving area of medicine. They also explain how the new AAOS Biologics Dashboard is designed to help members navigate the approval status of biologic-based interventions.


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Orthopaedic Coalition Offers Support for Bill to Mitigate Medicare Changes

The AAOS recently spearheaded a letter of support from 63 musculoskeletal organizations highlighting the importance of The Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (H.R. 8702). The legislation would provide relief payments to alleviate any Medicare reimbursement differences from payment cuts which are expected to take effect January 1, 2021, including a 5% cut for orthopaedic surgical services plus an additional 5% cut for hip and knee replacements. The November 16 letter from the coalition to the bill’s eight original cosponsors thanked them for their efforts in introducing this critical legislation and confirmed orthopaedic support for related efforts on Capitol Hill. They noted that orthopaedic surgeons across the country play a critical role in safeguarding musculoskeletal health, and now is not the time to limit access to this care. The AAOS is asking members to reach out to their representatives and encourage them to cosponsor H.R. 8702. Take action by contacting your representative today… 

AAOS Leaders Reiterate Payment Policy Concerns to White House

On November 17, AAOS leaders including President Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, met virtually with officials from the Office of Management and Budget to discuss proposed changes to the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and the 2021 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS). They reiterated their disappointment regarding evaluation and management code updates not being extended to global surgical codes and that the fee schedule conversion factor is being reduced by 10.6%. If finalized, these changes will significantly restrict access to care for many Americans, particularly with additional challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic (AAOS comments on PFS). AAOS leadership also expressed concern that not enough guidance has been given related to potentially eliminating the inpatient-only list, which may impede surgeon autonomy, accelerate additional prior authorization requirements, and create pressure to move potentially unsafe procedures to the outpatient setting (AAOS comments on OPPS). They concluded the meeting noting their strong objection to the Medicare prior-authorization program for outpatient services without sufficient data and analysis. Read more about AAOS’ position on the proposed changes…


Healthcare Policy News

Congress Turns to 2021 Funding, Stalls Progress on COVID-19 Relief 

Senate Republicans have released their federal funding proposals for fiscal year 2021, setting off negotiations with House Democrats on an end-of-year omnibus package. The government has remained open since September 30 under a continuing resolution set to expire December 11. Both sides are optimistic about their ability to reach a deal, which may move quickly as one large package with no opportunity for amendment. It’s unclear whether further COVID-19 relief, including extensions for the Paycheck Protection Program or industry-specific support, will be included. Aside from the omnibus package, negotiations on stand-alone COVID-19 relief efforts continue to be stalled over cost and liability disagreements despite time quickly running out on the congressional calendar. The House of Representatives is set to adjourn for the Thanksgiving break on November 20 and return on November 30 with only two weeks of session remaining before the end of the year. Read more about government funding negotiations…


Reminder for MIPS Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Applications

As the AAOS has previously reported, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be using its Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances policy for the 2020 performance year. This means that Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible clinicians, groups, and virtual groups will be allowed to submit an application requesting reweighting of one or more MIPS Performance Categories to 0% due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency. AAOS members who have concerns about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their performance data, including Cost measures, for the 2020 performance period, should submit an application and cite COVID-19 as the reason for applying. Those who already have an approved application can still receive scores for the Quality, Improvement Activities, and Promoting Interoperability performance categories if they submit data. If the Cost performance category is included in the approved application, they will not be scored on Cost measures even if other data are submitted. Learn more about the program or apply…

OrthoPAC Corner

Donor Appreciation Event with Political Analyst David Wasserman

As the AAOS Orthopaedic PAC closes out the 2020 election cycle, it is inviting 2020 PAC contributors to a post-election briefing featuring David Wasserman, house editor for the Cook Political Report and one of the nation’s top election forecasters. This virtual event will occur on December 1 at 8 pm ET and is open to all 2020 OrthoPAC contributors – no matter the contribution level. Wasserman will provide a recap and insight on the election, share his latest analysis on the political landscape, and what the 2020 election means for future elections. Time will be reserved for questions and conversation at the end. If you have not yet joined OrthoPAC in 2020 and would still like to attend, please email pac@aaos.org. RSVP for the December 1 event…

What We’re Reading

·        OrthoPAC Provides Post-election Update (AAOS Now, November)

·        CMS’ Elimination of the IPO List Would Have Consequences (AAOS Now, November)

·        AMA Delegates Urge More COVID Financial Relief for Docs (Medpage Today, 11/16)

·        Top picks for who could run HHS, CMS under Biden (Healthcare Dive, 11/10)