June 2017 BOS Washington Update

BOS Washington Update

 

Medical liability vote delayed in House
Senate drafting healthcare bill behind closed doors
House committee passes sports medicine legislation
FDA user fee bill advances in House
USPSTF released draft recommendation on scoliosis screening
CMS seeks comment on regulatory relief              
Racial disparities in surgical outcomes narrow
CMS delays SHFFT to 2018
Medicare cards will lose SS number in 2019
OIG: CMS overpaid EHR incentives
Device makers may have problem with cyber security
Hall O’ Fame

 

 

Medical liability vote delayed in House

The House of Representatives delayed a planned vote on H.R. 1215, legislation that contains comprehensive medical liability reforms, due to the June 14 attack on a Congressional Baseball Game practice. AAOS strongly supports the reforms in this bill, which are critical to bringing down health care costs and ensuring access to care for all patients. Mirroring the successful reforms of California and Texas, the Protecting Access to Care Act will ensure that physicians and health care providers are able to provide vital medical services to all patients without the threat of meritless lawsuits, and health care services will remain affordable and available to all. We need your help to urge members of Congress to support this critical bill. Click here to take action.


Senate drafting healthcare bill behind closed doors

Senate Republicans are writing their own healthcare bill in private, hoping to avoid public outcry on an unfinished product. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has defended the decision not to use the committee process, saying to reporters “I think the public knows what’s going on; I think you guys make sure that they know.” Reports indicate that the senators are writing their bill from scratch, choosing not to work from the version the House passed narrowly in May. It’s unclear whether the Senate will meet its informal deadline of July 4 to pass Obamacare repeal. AAOS sent a letter to Senate leadership outlining principles for health care reform. Read it here.

 

House committee passes sports medicine legislation

Legislation to allow traveling physicians to carry and administer controlled substances was advanced by a key House committee on June 7. The Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act (H.R. 1492) would update the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration process for mobile care providers like sports team physicians. The bill would allow these physicians to safely and securely carry and dispense controlled substances when medically appropriate. AAOS and AOSSM support the legislation and are working to advance it to passage in the House. Watch the full markup here.

 

FDA user fee bill advances in House

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance H.R. 2430, the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) of 2017 on June 7. The bill will reauthorize a package of user-fee agreements (including the Medical Device User Fee Agreement) set to expire in September 2017. This reauthorization will renew each agreement through 2022. The Senate HELP Committee already completed its mark-up of the user-fee package on May 11. FDA officials have warned both the House and Senate that, if the reauthorization is not complete by the end of July, the agency will have to begin sending notices to staff whose positions are funded through the user-fee programs that their jobs may be discontinued. Watch the full markup here.

 

USPSTF released draft recommendation on scoliosis screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft recommendation statement on Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Screening on May 26. The USPSTF report is inconclusive, saying “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents ages 10 to 18 years.” AAOS, SRS, and POSNA are developing a response to the recommendation, which directly contradicts the current position statement signed by the three organizations along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The deadline for public comment is June 26. Read the draft recommendation and submit comments here. Read the current AAOS joint position statement here.

 

CMS seeks comment on regulatory relief

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a new request for information on suggestions for regulatory relief from the health care industry. AAOS is collaborating with the specialty societies to provide CMS with options to provide relief for providers and increased access to care for patients. The deadline to submit comments is July 12. Read more and submit a comment here.

 

Racial disparities in surgical outcomes narrow

According to a Harvard study, quality improvements are leading to improved mortality rates for both black and white surgical patients. The study used nationwide Medicare inpatient claims data dating back to 2005 to examine trends in thirty-day postoperative mortality rates in black and white patients for five high-risk and three low-risk procedures. Overall, national mortality trends improved for both black and white patients, by 0.10 percent per year and 0.07 percent per year, respectively—which significantly narrowed the racial difference. Read more here.

 

CMS delays SHFFT to 2018

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a final rule that, among other things, delays to Jan. 1, 2018, the start date for Episode Payment Models (EPMs), including the Surgical Hip/Femur Fracture Treatment Model (SHFFT) and Advanced APM requirements for the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model (CJR). Performance year 1 for SHFFT will run from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018. The agency states that the delay "will ensure that CMS has adequate time to undertake notice and comment rulemaking, if modifications are warranted."

Read the final rule here.

 

Medicare cards will lose SS number in 2019

CMS announced on May 30 it will remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards by April, 2019. The move, mandated by the 2015 MACRA law, is seen as a way to combat identity theft in an era where patient records are increasingly likely to be stolen. The new number will be a combination of letters and numbers and be included on cards starting next April. Providers will have a 21-month transition period to be able to use either the old or new number to look up patients. Learn more here.

 

OIG: CMS overpaid EHR incentives

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report on June 12 examining the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive program. The OIG concluded that CMS paid an estimated $729 million in Medicare EHR incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) “who did not comply with federal requirements.” The OIG issued extensive recommendations for CMS action, including that CMS should recover $291,222 in payments to EPs in the sample set that did not meet meaningful use requirements. Read the full OIG report here.

 

Device makers may have problem with cyber security

Three recent studies indicate that device makers may not be prepared for cyber-attacks. A survey by the Ponemon Institute found that only 17 percent of device makers are taking active steps to defend themselves from cyber threats, despite being concerned about the problem. The survey also revealed only 44 percent of health care providers follow FDA guidance to mitigate or reduce security risks in devices. Almost seven in 10 consumers would consider leaving their provider if it were hit by ransomware, a survey from security vendor Carbon Black found. And WhiteScope found 8,000 known vulnerabilities in programs from four medical device manufacturers, signaling an "industry-wide issue" with software security updates.

 

Hall O’ Fame

The Orthopaedic PAC has announced the Orthopaedic "Hall O' Fame", recognizing the leaders that help make our PAC one of the biggest and most effective in health care advocacy. Several specialties were represented in the 2017 inaugural class, including AAHKS with Ronald Delanois, MD, AAHS with Larry Halperin, MD, OTA with Douglas Lundy, MD, and AOSSM with Peter Mandell, MD. We will recognize our Hall O' Fame members by taking their picture with the big "O" and hanging those pictures on the Wall O' Fame in the AAOS Office of Government Relations in Washington, DC. Read more here.