On January 9, the House passed H.R. 302, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, by voice vote. This AAOS priority was one of the first pieces of legislation to be passed in the House in the 115th Congress, occurring in only the second week of the session. The bill, introduced by Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), would clarify medical liability rules to ensure team providers are properly covered by their medical professional liability insurance while traveling with athletic teams in another state. AAOS and AOSSM continue to work towards Senate passage of this legislation. Read the AAOS press release online here.
On January 31, 2017 through February 1, 2017, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTS), the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS), and the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) hosted physicians and researchers in Washington, DC for the 2017 Extremity War Injuries Research Symposium. The twelfth annual EWI symposium, Homeland Defense as a Translation of War Lessons Learned, focused on disaster preparedness as well as an ongoing research agenda that highlighted state-of-the-art research and identified gaps in the treatment of extremity trauma. The two-day program included presentations and collaborative discussions on domestic readiness, disaster education, communication between providers, and developing response teams.
Orthopaedic Surgeons from the Rothman Institute in Pennsylvania came to Capitol Hill this week to advocate for physician-owned hospitals and the patients who receive high quality care at these facilities. As negotiations continue on the specifics of Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal, orthopaedic surgeons work to include a repeal on the ACA’s controversial restrictions on these hospitals. The group also helped secure cosponsors for Congressman Sam Johnson’s legislation that would repeal Section 6001 of the ACA, which prevents any new physician-owned hospitals from participating in Medicare or Medicaid and prevents existing hospitals from expanding. These restrictions must be lifted to ensure Medicare patients have access to high quality health care, as these hospitals provide some of the highest quality care in the country.
On February 1, the Senate Finance Committee cleared the nomination of Dr. Tom Price, an orthopaedic surgeon, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Republican lawmakers suspended committee rules that require at least one Democrat be present after every Democrat on the committee declined to participate in the vote. Price’s nomination will next be subject to a vote in the full Senate, which hasn’t yet been scheduled. In his confirmation hearings Price emphasized the six pillars of what he thinks makes up an effective health system: affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, responsibility, and choices. Read the Advocacy Now article on Price’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing here.
On January 12, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule to establish qualifications that providers and suppliers must meet to furnish, fabricate, or bill for custom-fabricated orthotics under Medicare. While the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 directed CMS to establish standards for such items, the CMS proposal goes beyond the statutory mandate and would disrupt the very practice of medicine. Among other things, the proposed rule could block longstanding and state-recognized physician supervision arrangements, and require physicians to be licensed or credentialed as orthotists simply to furnish custom-fabricated orthotics.
On February 6, Michael Burgess (R-TX) reintroduced the MISSION ZERO Act, to assist in assigning Department of Defense (DOD) trauma surgeons to civilian trauma centers. The legislation is intended to help fill gaps in care and ensure that advances in military trauma care are brought home for civilian patients. AAOS, working with OTA, participates in the Trauma Coalition, which worked to formulate and advance this legislation.
One of Trump’s first executive orders directed members of his administration to take steps that will facilitate the repeal and replacement of the ACA. Specifically, the order eliminates any “fiscal burden on any State” or any “cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden” on individuals and providers. While the individual mandate cannot be eliminated entirely through executive order, this could result in the expansion of the hardship exemption and cause the IRS to cease harsh enforcement. The order also instructs agencies to facilitate the interstate sale of health insurance and could make federal officials more receptive to state requests for Medicaid waivers.
According to a JAMA Ophthamology study conducted at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center, patients reported symptoms that differed from the symptoms reported in their electronic health records. The study adds to questions about EHR documentation, as similar results have been reported from urology and respiratory medicine clinics. Read the study here.
On January 9, the House passed H.R. 304, the Protecting Patients Access to Emergency Medications Act, by a vote of 404-0. The bill would allow emergency medical responders to administer controlled substances, such as pain narcotics and anti-seizure medications, under the supervision of a physician. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) sponsored the legislation. AAOS and OTA support this legislation, read the joint letter of support for last year’s identical version of the legislation here.
On February 1, the standards committee ASC X-12 put unique medical device identifiers on the draft insurance claims form issued for public comment. After a 90 day reporting period, CMS and HHS will review the form for endorsement. The finalized form should be in use by 2021. Read the draft form here.