Annual Meeting Updates, Budget Hearings, Opioid Talks Continue, and More
For questions or concerns on these or other advocacy issues, contact the Office of Government Relations at
Advocacy at #AAOS2016 Annual Meeting Seasoned vets and novices alike will have plenty of opportunities to make a difference at the #AAOS2016 Annual Meeting, March 1-5 in Orlando, FL. Now, more than ever, with so many issues central to our practice and our profession at stake, we need all members to get involved. Last year, we celebrated many legislative successes, including the repeal of the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate, the hardship exemption from meaningful use penalties in 2015 and securing over $30 million in annual Department of Defense orthopaedic research grants. Your active participation will help us continue to advance the legislative concerns of the AAOS and other orthopaedic subspecialties. All OGR planned activities at the Annual Meeting are listed below. We hope to see you in Orlando!

AAOS Advocacy Booth At the Advocacy Booth, you can learn more about AAOS’ OGR work to support our specialty in the US Congress and the Statehouses. Chat with OGR staff and physician advocacy leaders, renew your support with Orthopaedic PAC and take action on top legislative issues affecting your patients and practice. Click here to read more.

New Annual Meeting Symposium: Medicare PQRS Pathways for Payment

Session Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, Mar 01, 2016, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM, Valencia Room B

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2015 EHR “Meaningful Use” – Hardship Exemption Deadline Extended Note: visit for all the latest updates on health information technology and meaningful use, including information on applying for a 2015 exemption.

In an effort to allow physicians to avoid a potential 3 percent meaningful use penalty in 2017, a law was passed by Congress that allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to consider hardship exceptions for categories of eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals in a new, more streamlined process. Physician groups, including the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), lobbied for the legislation because the delayed release of modifications to the Stage 2 of the program left physicians with insufficient time to report under the modified requirements (read about the changes in an earlier Advocacy Now article here).

If you or your organization did not successfully meet meaningful use for an electronic health record (EHR) reporting period in 2015 and would like to apply for a hardship exception, the deadline is now July 1, 2016.

Click here to read more.

House and Senate Hearings on HHS Budget On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the fiscal year 2017 Health and Human Services (HHS) budget. The president submitted his fiscal year 2017 budget to Congress on February 9 and in the hearing, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell provided testimony on the department’s proposed budget. Much of the hearing focused on spending concerns, with Republicans highlighting that in 2015, federal spending for the major health care programs – Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and subsidies offered through health insurance exchanges and related spending – exceeded Social Security outlays for the first time.

Click here to read more.

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Election 2016 Graphic of the Week
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Senate Finance on Examining the Opioid Epidemic

On February 23, 2016 the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to examine the opioid epidemic in the United States. In his opening statements, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) shared the therapeutic results that can benefit patients who use opioid analgesics for pain management. However, he also highlighted the growing problem of opioid abuse, which has negatively affected many families, children, and communities.  Each day, approximately 7,000 people go to the emergency room for complications related to opioid abuse with a death related to opioid abuse occurring every 30 minutes. According to Hatch, “Put simply, opioid abuse has become an epidemic and a significant public health problem.” Click here to read more.

What We’re Reading McConnell Moving Forward with Drug Abuse Bill, The Hill, 2/25/16

The Fight Over Congressional Health Care Stalls Another Obama Nominee, National Journal, 2/25/16

White House Takes Major Steps in Precision Medicine Initiative, Morning Consult, 2/25/16

Grassley Scheduling Obama Meeting Over SCOTUS Nominee, Politico, 2/24/16

Fight for Health Co-op Funds Looms, The Wall Street Journal, 2/24/16

No Evidence That Insurance Market Consolidation Leads to Greater Innovation, Health Affairs, 2/24/16

Senators Push to Keep Seniors From Doctor Shopping for Opioids, Roll Call, 2/23/15

Obama Says Nation’s Doctors Key to Fixing Opioid Abuse Epidemic, Modern Healthcare, 2/22/16

CMS Proposes Small Increase in Medicare Advantage Payments, The Hill, 2/19/16

The Hard Work Ahead on Adopting Uniform Quality Measures, Modern Healthcare, 2/18/16

The Republican Obamacare Replacement Plan Might Come Together, Forbes, 2/17/16

A Novel Plan for Health Care: Cutting Costs, Not Raising Them, The New York Times, 2/17/16

Senate Confirms New FDA Commissioner On February 24, 2015, the Senate confirmed Robert Califf by a vote of 89-4 as the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner. There had been some opposition from lawmakers who were protesting the agency’s role in the prescription painkiller epidemic, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed the nominee forward with bipartisan support. The FDA, responsible for regulating industries that account for about 25 percent of consumer spending in the United States, had been without a Senate-confirmed leader since Margaret Hamburg left the post last March. Click here to read more.
ONC Introduces Interoperability Proving Ground On February 24, 2015, the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has launched a new site dedicated to interoperability and its developing projects. The Interoperability Proving Ground (IPG), the first output of the ONC Tech Lab approach, is an open, community platform where individuals can “share, learn, and be inspired by interoperability projects taking place across the nation.” The IPG provides a simple way to share a succinct set of basics about your project (e.g., title, description, hyperlink to your project website) and “tag” it with any standards or keywords that may be associated with it (e.g., C-CDA, FHIR, PDMP, ADT). The data shared then populates the main IPG home page so anyone can easily filter and search across the entire interoperability project database or view interoperability projects nationwide on an interactive map. Click here to read more.
ASA’s PSH Learning Collaborative 2.0 Seeks Your Participation – Applications Due March 15 The Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) is a patient-centric, team-based model of care created by leaders within the American Society of Anesthesiologists to help meet the demands of a rapidly approaching health care paradigm that will emphasize value, patient satisfaction and reduced costs.

Although only in its early stages, the PSH model has been transformative for many of the early adopters who have incorporated it at their institutions including members of the first PSH Learning Collaborative. The first collaborative consisted of a diverse group of 44 health care organizations across the country who evaluated the viability of the PSH model and the extent to which it might prove superior to conventional perioperative care. Click here to read more.