AACU conference assembles 'urology advocacy armada'
Facing uncertainty in Medicare and increasing regulatory and insurer burdens, the leaders of organizations representing urologists across the country gathered in mid-August for the 9th Annual AACU State Society Network Advocacy Conference.
The diverse program included presentations by respected physicians and nationally recognized health policy experts on issues faced in independent practice, academic institutions, and large hospital systems.
According to Missouri urologist Jeffrey Glaser, MD, the meeting provided "useful, though at times unsettling, information on upcoming changes" to Medicare reimbursement, facility regulations, and maintenance of certification.
The most troubling topic, perhaps, was the hurried implementation of Medicare's post-SGR payment structure. Major provisions of the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), the law establishing the new system, go into effect in just a few months—January 2017. Quality measures will play an increasingly significant role in determining provider reimbursement under MACRA, yet those standards are still unclear or even undefined.
AUA Data Committee Chair J. Quentin Clemens, MD, took on many urologists' fear that they will be measured on items totally unrelated to the provision of specialized surgical care. Dr. Clemens drew attention to the AQUA Registry, a urology-focused Qualified Clinical Data Registry that will help those practices choosing the revised fee-for-service (FFS) payment structure established by MACRA.
That choice, between bundled payments and merit-based FFS incentives, contributed to great unease and uncertainty of those attending the 36-hour event. In a breakout session tackling employed physician leadership in the medical center setting, participants reported that they did not believe their institution had made that very important decision. Executives and physicians associated with large urology groups shared statistics and strategies to successfully integrate both payment models into their practice.
Similarly, industry consultants provided high-value information on health care industry consolidation and winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act that will, according to Dr. Glaser, provide "benefit for our patients and improve our ability to advocate for them, and for our profession!"