Neurology on the Hill
On April 22–23, a record 146 Academy members representing 43 states and Washington, DC will participate in the 2013 Neurology on the Hill. Attendees will meet with members of Congress to discuss the need for fair Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement in order to prevent a shortage of neurologists available to care for the one in six people currently affected by neurologic disease. A shortage of neurologists would continue to increase patient wait times for diagnosis and treatment.
Neurology on the Hill is an annual, two–day event hosted by the American Academy of Neurology that takes place in the spring. Participants are flown to Washington, DC, to put a face on the challenges of people with neurologic disorders and the physicians who treat them. For many Academy members, Neurology on the Hill is their first hands–on experience with the political process.
On Monday attendees will receive education on the current health care climate and AAN priority issues. This year's speakers are will include Story Landis, MD, PhD, Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Mandy Cohen, MD, Senior Advisor to Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Len Marquez, Director, Government Relations, Association of American Medical Colleges. Tuesday morning they will be addressed by members of Congress followed by visits to the offices of their Senators and Representatives.
The AAN's top advocacy priority is to seek payment reform to more accurately value cognitive care services. The current Medicare fee–for–service model disproportionately values procedures over non–procedural care. Any reform of the broken Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula offers an opportunity for broader payment reforms. By participating in NOH, you will be part of the effort to educate Congress about the value of neurologic care and the need for reform to ensure that your expertise continues to be available to the patients who need it.
No experience is necessary, just a passion for neurology and desire to advocate for positive changes for your patients and profession. For further information, please contact Brandi Rajkovich at firstname.lastname@example.org or (612) 928–6003.
AAN Advocates Visit Capitol Hill to Fight for Neurology
During the tenth annual Neurology on the Hill, February 27–28, 2012, a record 142 motivated Academy members joined us in Washington, DC. Attendees spoke with their congressional representatives reminding them that patient access to neurology faces serious problems should the current health care climate continue. Specifically, members in attendance discussed the significance of Cognitive Care and increased NIH Funding.
Recent Developments on Cognitive Care:
Last fall Representative Allyson Schwartz (D–PA) submitted a framework for an SGR repeal that would increase pay for primary care providers, as defined by the Affordable Care Act, by 2.5 percent each of four years, while increasing all other providers at just 0.5 percent. This definition left out cognitive care providers such as neurology and rheumatology, even if they bill a large percentage of their services under the same evaluation and management codes (E/M) as primary care providers. The Academy sent a letter through the Cognitive Specialty Coalition (CSC) detailing our objections last December.
Since then, the Academy and members of the CSC, including rheumatology, infectious diseases, and endocrinology, have pounded the halls of Congress, including the visits during Neurology on the Hill, with the message that cognitive providers need to be recognized in efforts to improve the practice climate for primary care providers.
Academy advocacy efforts have paid off as Representative Schwartz has added neurology and other cognitive specialties to a bill she has introduced that would eliminate the Medicare SGR formula and provide for pathways to new, innovative physician payment models. At the request of Representative Joe Heck (R–NV), who is cosponsoring the bill, Schwartz changed language improving payments for primary care providers to encompass cognitive specialists including neurologists. Although the bill is a long way from passing, this sets a precedent that primary care improvements will not be based on specialty designation but on care provided to patients and represents a significant success for AAN lobbying efforts.