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    Specialty groups make health reform pitch

    Maintain fee-for-service option, Alliance letter urges

     

    IPAB repeal, liability reform urged

    As the legislation to be considered through the “regular order” process is developed, the Alliance urged:

    • repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has been opposed by organizations representing urology as well as many other physician groups since it was established by the ACA “The Alliance strongly supports repealing the IPAB, which inappropriately delegates Congress’ oversight responsibilities to an unaccountable board of government bureaucrats,” the Alliance declared. The IPAB was created to impose spending cuts on Medicare in the event certain targets are reached.
    • medical liability reform, including limits on non-economic damages
    • addressing work force shortages, a particular concern in urology given the increasing numbers of retirements compared to the influx of new physicians “While medical schools in the U.S. have increased their enrollments, and additional medical and osteopathic schools have been established, the number of Medicare-funded resident positions has been capped by law at 1996 levels,” wrote the Alliance.
    • medical specialty representation on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force “We urge the committee to consider the bipartisan “USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act,” the Alliance said. The legislation would ensure input from medical specialists, and regularly engage interested stakeholders and scientific and medical experts in the subject matters under review. AUA reports having met with numerous congressional offices in support of that legislation, noting that many were unaware that it had been introduced.
    • maintaining a viable fee-for-service option, particularly since many communities do not have many health plans from which to choose and may not have an adequate number of specialists in those plans
    • implementing an option under Medicare that would allow patients to privately contract for services directly with their physician and get reimbursed by Medicare. Currently, beneficiaries who wish to do so must pay for those services out of their own pocket – and, if a physician opted out of Medicare to contract privately, even with one patient, he or she is ineligible for Medicare reimbursement for 2 years. “Congress should eliminate the 2-year Medicare exclusion for physicians who privately contract, and allow patients who privately contract to recoup the amount Medicare would otherwise pay for the service,” the Alliance said.
    • refining the authority of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), which was established to provide a research and development platform to experiment and evaluate new payment and delivery approaches. The Alliance said the CMMI’s authority should be refined to ensure that demonstration authority is not “overly broad” and that participation in CMMI-approved payment models is voluntary.
    • exempting continuing medical education from physician Sunshine Act reporting requirements established by the ACA. The Alliance opposes a decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that accredited CME and reprints of peer-reviewed journal articles and medical textbooks do not directly benefit patients and are not intended for patient use, and thus must be reported in the same manner as cash payments.

    Whether the Senate will be able to finalize comprehensive health reform legislation and achieve a vote prior to the August recess was in question at press time. Meeting that time frame would allow lawmakers to return in September and tackle an ambitious legislative agenda, including tax overhaul, funding the government through fiscal year 2018, increasing the debt ceiling to prevent default, and more.

    Regardless, however, whatever legislation is finally approved by the Senate is just one additional step toward final enactment, as a compromise bill must be negotiated with the House of Representatives and then both chambers must act before sending a final bill to President Trump.

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    Bob Gatty
    Bob Gatty, a former congressional aide, covers news from Washington for Urology Times.

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