Today’s Top Story

Deal to end government shutdown includes 6 years of CHIP authorization; delays to medical device and “Cadillac” taxes

HealthLeaders Media reports that a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded through Feb. 8, 2018, reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 6 years and delays for 2 years implementation of a medical device tax and a so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health insurance. The resolution was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Donald J. Trump on Monday.

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In November 2017, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) joined a handful of physician organizations in sending a letter urging congressional action on CHIP funding.

Read the letter (PDF)…

Other News

Alex Azar confirmed as HHS secretary

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Alex M. Azar as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As reported by CNBC, Mr. Azar previously held high-level positions at HHS during the George W. Bush administration, and is the former president of the U.S. division of drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company.

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CMS reports on QPP successes and penalties

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) states that 20,481 clinicians will receive an additional 6.6 percent to 19.9 percent on their 2018 Medicare physician fee schedule payments under the Quality Payment Program (QPP) as a result of high performance on quality and cost measures in 2016. However, the agency also notes that 834,397 clinicians received no payment adjustment, and 296,475 received penalties. Under the QPP, providers who meet minimum quality reporting requirements receive positive or neutral payment adjustments based on performance.

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Read the CMS fact sheet (PDF)…

Learn more about the QPP…

Study: Baseline bone density, microarchitecture, and strength may help predict fragility fracture in older women

Data from a study published online in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research suggest that baseline bone density, microarchitecture, and strength may be an improved predictor of incident fragility fractures in older women compared to changes in those variables. Members of the research team conducted a prospective study of 149 women older than 60 years, 22 of whom experienced a fragility fracture during a 5-year follow-up period. Compared to participants who did not experience fracture, they found that those in the fracture cohort had lower baseline total bone mineral density (BMD), trabecular BMD, and trabecular number, with higher trabecular separation at the radius. Similarly, at the tibia, participants in the fracture group had lower baseline total BMD, trabecular BMD, cortical thickness, cortical area, and failure load with higher total area and trabecular area.

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Study: Black patients negatively impacted by disparities in TKA utilization and complication rates

According to a study published online in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, disparities in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) utilization and complication rates negatively impact racial minorities in the United States. The authors used the Osteoarthritis Policy Model to estimate quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost for black patients with knee osteoarthritis due to differences in TKA offer, acceptance, and complication rates. They found that black men and women gain 64,100 QALYs from current TKA use. If offer and complications rates matched those of white patients, they would gain an additional 72,000 QALYs. “Because these additional gains are unrealized,” the authors write, “we call this a loss of 72,000 QALYs.” They estimate that black Americans lose 67,500 QALYs due to lower offers, 15,800 QALYs due to lower acceptance, and 2,600 QALYs due to increased complication rates.

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In the States


The Associated Press reports that voters in Oregon have passed a measure to increase taxes and fees on hospitals, health insurers, and managed care companies to cover an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. Under Measure 101, a 0.7 percent increase in the hospital tax and a 1.5 percent tax on health plans is expected to raise about $320 million, which could be leveraged to raise three times as much in federal matching funds.

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Call for volunteers: MedPAC

AAOS seeks to nominate members to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program. Applicants for this position must be active fellows, candidate members, candidate members osteopathic, candidate member applicants for fellowship, or candidate member applicants for fellowship osteopathic. In addition, all applicants must provide the following: an online AAOS CAP application, a current curriculum vitae, a 100-word biography, and a letter of interest highlighting his or her expertise in the subject area and a statement that he or she is able to participate in full capacity. All supporting materials must be submitted to Kyle Trivedi by Feb. 11, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. CT, at:

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