Congress Holds SGR Hearings, CMS To Fix Meaningful Use, and More. For questions or concerns on these or other advocacy issues, contact the Office of Government Relations at
House Energy and Commerce Two-Day Hearing on SGR

Tomorrow Is Our Virtual Lobby Day!

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a two-day hearing on the need to advance a permanent legislative solution to the “broken Medicare physician reimbursement formula” known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The hearing, entitled “A Permanent Solution to the SGR: The Time Is Now,” was the first of the 114th Congress on this issue and comes about two months before the current patch expires. Though the last Congress made significant progress on the SGR policy, political realities – namely, how to pay for the bill – stalled final passage so that a one-year patch was necessarily enacted instead. At last week’s hearing, legislators again expressed a strong commitment to fixing the SGR, which has plagued the health care industry for over a decade. “This Subcommittee has made permanent repeal of the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula, or SGR, a top priority for the last four years,” stated Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA). “In 2014, we reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a replacement policy that enjoys widespread support both in Congress and among the stakeholder community. With the current “doc fix” expiring in less than two months, at the end of March, we are faced with the best opportunity in a decade to permanently dispose of the SGR. We are committed to rising to meet this challenge.” Click here to read more.

CMS to Address Meaningful Use Concerns On January 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their intent to engage in rulemaking to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs beginning in 2015. These changes, CMS wrote, are intended to help reduce the reporting burden on providers and to specifically address concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and developments in the industry. The new rule is expected this spring. The CMS announcement follows a December declaration that approximately 257,000 professionals would be affected by meaningful use penalties for failing to meet meaningful use requirements. Though CMS believes some physicians failed to meet meaningful use by choice, the reality is that physicians faced significant timing, staffing, technological or financial difficulty in implementing the electronic systems. While the AAOS shares the goal of having physicians use health information technology in a meaningful way (read the AAOS position statement on Electronic Health Records here), AAOS has aggressively and continually urged CMS to consider these difficulties, stating in a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner that the meaningful use policies could “push healthcare delivery into larger multi-specialty practices and threaten to put small and solo practitioners out of business, while simultaneously reducing access to care.” Click here to read more.
HHS Announces Value-Based Payment Goals Last week, the Obama administration announced a new goal to shift Medicare reimbursements from volume to value. Specifically, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said HHS has set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional – or fee-for-service – Medicare payments to quality or value through alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018. Alternative payment models include Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) or bundled payment arrangements. “In alternative payment models, providers are accountable for the quality and cost of care for the people and populations they serve, moving away from the old way of doing things, which amounted to, ‘the more you do, the more you get paid,’” Burwell commented. Click here to read more. Follow Our New Twitter Account @AAOSAdvocacy
21st Century Cures Discussion Draft Released This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released an initial discussion draft that outlines proposals focused on accelerating the pace of cures in the United States. According to a committee release, the draft seeks “to continue the important dialogue of the past year” and is the result of “invaluable input” shared in response to white papers and at hearings and roundtables convened over the past year. The committee emphasized, however, that the draft is just a starting point in the legislative process and the inclusion of certain policies should not necessarily be seen as an endorsement. “Expanding availability of Medicare data, streamlining the drug and device development process, and advancing opportunities for telemedicine, are just a few of the important goals addressed in the 21st Century Cures discussion draft,” stated AAOS Medical Director William O. Shaffer, MD. “Orthopaedics has long been a driver of innovation and we look forward to providing feedback to the committee on this valuable effort.” The discussion draft includes provisions authored by both Republicans and Democrats that would: (1) incorporate patient perspectives into the regulatory process and help address their unmet medical needs; (2) build the foundation for 21st Century medicine; (3) streamline clinical trials; (4) accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle and support continued innovation at our Federal public health agencies; and (5) modernize medical product regulation. The committee is seeking feedback on the provisions with the goal of sending a bill to President Obama’s desk for signature by the end of the year. Click here to view more.
Trauma and Public Health Concerns Discussed at Hearing On January 27, 2015, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health convened to discuss a variety of public health concerns at a hearing entitled “Examining Public Health Legislation to Help Patients and Local Communities.” Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) noted in his opening remarks that “families and local communities expect us to work together to solve problems, and we look forward to using our prior success as a springboard to further boost the public health in this new Congress.” The Health Subcommittee, led by Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), examined a number of bills that primarily dealt with themes of veteran medics, the accessibility and regulation of prescription drugs, and the challenges experienced by trauma systems today. Click here to read more.
Congratulations to the Winners of the 2014 Stuart L. Weinstein, MD PAC Participation Awards! The Stuart L. Weinstein, MD PAC Participation Awards were established in 2013 to honor the states with the highest PAC participation rate as well as the individual state that has demonstrated the greatest improvement in PAC participation from one year to the next. Congratulations to Puerto Rico for achieving the highest participation rate in the Orthopaedic PAC at an impressive 69 percent! Congratulations to Vermont for seeing the greatest improvement in their PAC participation, up from 16 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in 2014. Throughout the year, the hard work in each of these states to increase grassroots fundraising efforts and engage their orthopaedic surgeons on the importance of the Orthopaedic PAC, have successfully set them apart as leaders in advocacy involvement. Please join us in congratulating their efforts! Click here to read more.
Committee Appointment Program (CAP) Alert

The AAOS currently has a number of openings posted in the Committee Appointment Program (CAP) for committee service that will begin in March 2015. The positions can be viewed at Member login is required. We encourage you to visit the CAP website regularly as new positions continue to be posted.

AAOS Orthopaedic PAC Online Contribution Center The Orthopaedic PAC website features an online contribution center, which can now 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!

State Contributions Leader Board Congratulations to the following states for leading in PAC participation throughout the first half of 2014! A complete listing of each state’s PAC numbers through June 30, 2014, can also be viewed by visiting and selecting the interactive map.

If you are interested in serving as a PAC Representative to help champion PAC participation in your state, please contact Kristin Brackemyre at or 202.548.4150.

Highest Percentage of PAC Contributors 1. Vermont – 57% 2. South Dakota – 45% 3. Hawaii – 41% 4. Iowa – 38% 5. North Dakota – 36% Click here to read more.