Today’s Top Story
Meaningful use exemption guaranteed—but providers must ask for it.
Legislation passed last week by the U.S. Congress—the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act—includes a provision requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to grant blanket hardship exemptions from 2015 meaningful use (MU) penalties to all providers who request such exemptions. Hardship applications will be accepted until March 15, 2016. The legislation grants CMS the authority to process requests for hardship exemptions to physicians through a more streamlined process. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons had expressed concern about the ability of providers to meet MU requirements, particularly since CMS did not release the final rule, which required 90 continuous reporting days, until Oct. 1. “We were pleased that both the House and Senate passed this last-minute legislation enabling providers to more easily apply for an exemption to the 2015 MU Stage 2 reporting rules,” stated Advocacy Council Chair Thomas C. Barber, MD. Read more…(registration may be required)
Read more in Advocacy Now…

Other News

Study: Naproxen effective at reducing heterotopic ossification after hip arthroscopy.
A study published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that administration of naproxen following arthroscopic surgery for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) was effective in reducing the prevalence of heterotopic ossification (HO) without medication-related morbidity. Patients in study were randomized preoperatively on the day of their surgery to take either naproxen (500 mg) or a placebo twice daily for 3 weeks following surgery. The final prevalence of HO in FAI patients randomized to the naproxen group was 4 percent (2 of 48) versus 46 percent (22 of 48) in the patients randomized to the placebo group (P <0.001). When stopping criterion had been met for demonstration of efficacy of the naproxen intervention, the study was halted. Minor adverse reactions to the study medications were reported by 42 percent of patients taking naproxen and by 35 percent of those in the placebo group (>P = 0.45). Although the authors concluded that prophylactic naproxen therapy significantly reduces the prevalence of HO after hip arthroscopy, they noted, “It still remains to be determined which NSAID and dosing schedule are ideal for HO prophylaxis in this patient population.” Read more…

CMS releases draft quality measure development plan for MIPS and APMs.
CMS has released a draft CMS Quality Measure Development Plan (MDP) for comment. The MDP supports the transition to a new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APMs) for providers. The MDP arises from the passage earlier this year of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which repealed the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula, replacing it with MIPS and APMs, and phasing out the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value-based Payment Modifier, and Meaningful Use. According to CMS, the MDP will address gaps in the quality measures identified in the those programs, meet the statute’s requirements, and serve as a template for developing clinical quality measures to support MIPS and APMs. As stated in the MDP, the agency will apply a positive, negative, or neutral payment adjustment to each MIPS-eligible provider based on a composite performance score to include quality, resource use, clinical practice improvement activities, and meaningful use of EHR technology beginning in 2019. The American Medical Association has expressed concern over the possibility that physicians will be penalized for missing a single requirement or for unavoidable technological glitches. CMS is soliciting stakeholder comments on the draft plan through March 1, 2016; the final MDP will be posted to the CMS website by May 1, 2016 and updated annually or as otherwise appropriate. Read more…
Read the CMS draft plan (PDF)…
Submit comments to CMS via web site…
Submit comments to the MDP-dedicated email address:

Three Republican state legislators in Virginia have called for a repeal of Certificate of Need (CON) laws, which they say are anticompetitive and drive up prices. The Washington Post reported that House of Delegates member John M. O’Bannon III, MD, a neurologist, said that hospitals and other parties use CON requirements governing pre-approval of expansions involving hospitals, surgery centers, and certain medical services “to try to build monopolies” and that the regulations tangle innovation and proposed construction of warranted new facilities in red tape. He supports exemptions for hospitals and for imaging, ambulatory, and surgery centers, while leaving in place pre-approval mandates for nursing homes, open-heart surgery facilities, and tissue transplant services. Hospital interests generally oppose repeal of CON provisions. Such legislation “would threaten our healthcare system that already faces challenges in making health care more affordable and more available to Virginians,” a spokesman for the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association said. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department have both expressed concern that CON laws are anticompetitive. Read more…

AAOS approves statement on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
At their December meeting, the AAOS Board of Directors approved a revised position statement developed in conjunction with the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA). The statement, Screening for the Early Detection of Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adolescents (1122), reads as follows:
“The AAOS, SRS, AAP, and POSNA believe that screening examinations for spine deformity should be part of the medical home preventive services visit for females at age 10 and 12 years, and males once at age 13 or 14 years. The AAOS, SRS, AAP, and POSNA believe that recent high-quality studies demonstrate that nonoperative interventions such as bracing and scoliosis-specific exercises can decrease the likelihood of curve progression to the point of requiring surgical treatment.” Read the statement (PDF)…

Meet your New Year’s resolution to get involved: Volunteer now for positions closing by the end of the year.
A number of positions currently available through the AAOS Committee Appointment Program (CAP) will be closing before the next issue of AAOS Headline News Now. If your skills match these openings, be sure to get your application in before Jan. 1. Give your colleagues the benefit of your experience and guarantee that you will meet any New Year’s resolutions to get involved by applying for a position:

  • Adult Spine Evaluation Committee (chair; position closing Jan. 4)
  • Annual Meeting Committee
    • Chair designee; Jan. 2
    • Member-at-large; Jan. 4
    • Allied health representative; Jan. 4
  • Coding, Coverage and Reimbursement Committee (chair; Jan. 3)
  • Exhibits Committee (chair designee; Jan. 2)
  • Program Committees (Dec. 30)
    • Adult Reconstruction Hip (16 members)
    • Adult Reconstruction Knee (nine members)
    • Practice Management/Rehabilitation (chair, seven members)
    • Trauma (seven members)
  • Team Physician Consensus Conference (liaison; Jan. 3)
  • Women’s Health Issues Advisory Board (liaison to Council on Advocacy; Dec. 30)

Learn more and submit your application…(member login required)