Meaningful Use Exemption Updates, State of the Union, Common Rule, and More For questions or concerns on these or other advocacy issues, contact the Office of Government Rela-tions at Meaningful Use Ex-emption In-for-mation, 2016 Continu-ing As-Is Last month, Pres-ident Barack Obama signed into law S. 2425, the Pa-tient Ac-cess and Med-icare Pro-tec-tion Act, which in-cludes a pro-vision ad-dressing relief from Elec-tronic Health Rec-ords (EHRs) and the meaningful use (MU) pro-gram. Im-portantly, the legis-lation re-quires that the Cen-ters for Med-icare and Med-icaid Ser-vices (CMS) pro-vide a blan-ket hard-ship ex-emp-tion from 2015 meaningful use pen-alties to all pro-viders who ask for it. The pen-alties would have been as-sessed in 2017. Click here to read more. Help Build a Safe and Accessible Playground in Orlando! Next month, the AAOS re-turns to Or-lan-do, Fla., for the 2016 An-nual Meet-ing—the city where safe and ac-ces-sible play be-gan for the Academy. Join us on Tuesday, March 1 as we mag-ically trans-form Cen-tral Ave-nue Ele-men-tary School in Kis-simmee, Fla., by build-ing our 17th Safe and Ac-ces-sible Play-ground. Once com-plete, the play-ground will serve thou-sands of chil-dren from both the school and the sur-rounding communi-ty. Vol-un-teer to as-sem-ble a last-ing lega-cy for Cen-tral Ave-nue Ele-men-tary School—a gift the fami-lies in the communi-ty would be able to ap-pre-ciate for years. En-joy great mu-sic and fun as you help to as-sem-ble play-ground equipment under the direc-tion of sea-soned pro-ject man-ag-ers. No expe-rience is nec-es-sary to help. Bus-es will run be-tween the Or-ange County Con-ven-tion Cen-ter, Level 1 Lob-by, and the build site be-tween 7:30 a.m. through 2:30 p.m. Reg-ister as a vol-un-teer at For addi-tional in-for-mation, email Kayee Ip at Obama Delivers His Final State of the Union, Addresses Opioids, Research In his final State of the Union speech, Pres-ident Barack Obama touched on several issues related to health care. First, he fo-cused on heroin and opioid abuse, men-tioning that “helping people who are bat-tling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse” is one of the bipartisan issues he expects progress on in 2016. Both parties have expressed concern about rising hero-in abuse rates – most recently, with the Senate Finance Committee hearing the issue in October (read more in Advocacy Now here). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also sponsored a meas-ure, signed into law last year, which would help treat infants who are exposed to opi-oids in the womb. Additionally, Rob Port-man (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have teamed up on a wide-ranging package (S. 524) that would expand edu-cational and prevention efforts and in-crease access to drugs that can reverse the effects of overdose. Finally, the omnibus provided $25 million to expand services that address prescription drug abuse and heroin use in high-risk communities (read more in Advocacy Now here). Click here to read more. What We’re Reading The Big-gest Health Care Win-ners in the Tax and Om-nibus Deal, Na-tional Jour-nal, 1/15/16 Obama Wants to Ex-tend ACA’s Med-icaid Deal to Late-com-ers, Mod-ern Healthcare, 1/14/16 State of the Un-ion: Five Things That Might Hap-pen, Five That Won’t, Roll Call, 1/13/16 Loui-siana Ex-pands Med-icaid Un-der Dem Gov-ernor, The Hill, 1/12/16 Ad-justing for So-cial De-ter-mi-nants in Val-ue-Based Pay-ments Still Fuzzy, Mod-ern Healthcare, 1/12/16 More Than 200K to See Hit in Med-icare Pay-ments After Fail-ing to Meet MU Re-quirements, FierceEMR, 1/12/16 White House Sets Feb. 9 Budget Rollout Date, Roll Call, 1/7/16 Aetna De-par-ture a Major Blow for In-sur-ers Group, The Hill, 1/5/16 Why Elec-tion Years and Smooth Spending Bills Don’t Mix, Na-tional Jour-nal, 1/5/16 Sen-ate Chairman: Cures is Next Pri-ority, The Hill, 12/21/15 OHRP: Notice of Proposed Rule Making on the Common Rule On September 8, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with fifteen other federal departments and agencies, published a proposed rule to modernize and strengthen the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, otherwise known as the Common Rule. The proposed rule marks the first attempt to make significant changes to the Common Rule since its promulgation in 1991. Though technical revisions were made in 2005, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is the first set of substantial changes pro-posed to the Common Rule in 25 years. Click here to read more. Preparing for 2015 EHR Reporting Participation Note: visit for all the latest updates, including information on applying for a meaningful use exemption (see “UPDATE: Meaningful Use Exemption In-formation Posted” above). To help eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) suc-cessfully participate in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs in 2015, CMS has posted new resources on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website. • Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals/CAHs: What You Need to Know for 2015 • Overview of the EHR Incentive Programs in 2015-2017 • What’s Changed for the EHR Incentive Programs in 2015-2017 • Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals/CAHs Attestation Worksheets • Alternate Exclusions and Specifications Fact Sheet • Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals/CAHs Objectives and Measures Ta-bles • Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals/CAHs Specification Sheets Click here to read more. CMS Announces Submission Timeframes for 2015 PQRS Data The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the 2015 Physi-cian Quality Reporting System (PQRS) data submission timeframes: • EHR Direct or Data Submission Vendor (QRDA I or III) – 1/1/16 – 2/29/16 • Qualified clinical data registries (QCDRs) (QRDA III) – 1/1/16 – 2/29/16 • Group practice reporting option (GPRO) Web Interface – 1/18/16 – 3/11/16 • Qualified registries (Registry XML) – 1/1/16 – 3/31/16 • QCDRs (QCDR XML) – 1/1/16 – 3/31/16 Submission ends at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time on the end date listed. An Enterprise Identity Management (EIDM) account with the “Submitter Role” is required for these PQRS data submission methods. Please see the EIDM System Toolkit for additional information. Click here to read more. CMS Issues an Emergency Update to the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2016. Revisions to relative value units (RVUs) were made, resulting in slight increases or decreases for each CPT code. The CMS update also includes a revision to the Medicare conversion factor which has been changed from $35.8279 to $35.8043. Updates to the fee schedule data files were released on January 11, 2016 and can be found online here: Members are strongly encouraged to update their billing systems to ensure that they have the current in-puts. Pre-Certification Notice from AAOS President Dear Colleagues: On January 1, 2016 Cigna, using eviCore, implemented a pre-certification system for total joint arthroplasty patients. Prior to the implementation of this new process, leadership from the AAOS and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) met with rep-resentatives from Cigna and eviCore. AAOS and AAHKS leadership shared concerns re-garding the procedural and clinical aspects of this pre-certification process. Also at this meet-ing, we educated Cigna and eviCore about AAOS evidence-based quality initiatives such as our Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs), Appropriate Use Criteria (AUCs) and OrthoGuide-lines. Cigna and eviCore were impressed with our quality initiatives. EviCore stated that it did not use the same high-quality, evidence-based processes in developing its pre-certification system. Click here to read more. AAOS Orthopaedic PAC Online Contribution Center AAOS welcomed Stacie Monroe to the Office of Government Relations (OGR) team on October 19. Stacie joins the OGR with a strong background in fundraising and expertise within the medical community. For the past nine years Stacie was with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as their Political Advocacy Director. Please drop Stacie an email with any PAC requests or ques-tions at or by phone 202.548.4150. The Orthopaedic PAC website features an online contribution center, which can accept contributions via credit card by visiting the site and using your AAOS login credentials. Credit card contributions can also be conveniently scheduled for a monthly, quarterly or yearly recurring donation. Consider joining the Orthopaedic PAC with a monthly contribution of $25 or make a $1,000 contribution manageable through $250 quarterly contributions to qualify for the new “Capitol Club”. Visit and select Donate to the Orthopaedic PAC for more information or to contribute today. Don’t remember when you last contributed? Log in to the contribution center today to view your complete donation history!