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Capitol Hill Report: SGR Repeal Imminent

April 13, 2015

By Mike Amery, Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

SGR Repeal Imminent
In 2002, an issue called “the SGR” came across my desk for the first time. Legislation creating the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula had passed in 1997. Under this new system, total Medicare physician reimbursement would be based on the economy. Physicians saw increases in payment until that day in 2002 when we were all informed that a small cut was coming.

In one of the first action alerts AAN ever sent, we asked members to contact Congress to prevent the cut. Congress stepped in and prevented the cut. Then they did it again…17 times until the potential cut reached 21 percent.

Last Wednesday, you received another AAN Action Alert email asking you to contact your US senators to pass HR 2, a bill that eliminates the SGR once and for all and passed the US House 392-37 two weeks ago.

President Obama has indicated that he strongly supports HR 2 and will sign it as soon as it passes the Senate, which will hopefully be today (Monday, April 13) or tomorrow. The outcome in the Senate is very much in doubt, but with such strong support from many sides of the health care sector, I am very hopeful that this Action Alert is the last one you will ever see on SGR.

We will be watching closely and will be sending out a special Capitol Hill Report as soon as the Senate acts.


AAN Regulatory Efforts Help Ease EHR Burden on Neurologists
By Daniel Spirn, Regulatory Counsel 

On April 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided neurology with good news as the agency released a proposal to shorten the reporting period for its meaningful use incentive program for electronic health record (EHR) systems in 2015 from 12 months to 90 days. AAN has fought for a shorter time frame, making it easier for neurologists to satisfy the requirements of the incentive program and avoid a penalty. This shorter time frame applies to physicians new to the program in 2015, along with those who have previously participated. In the newly proposed rule, physicians also will be able to schedule their 90-day reporting period for the latter half of 2015, allowing for more time to install and train on EHR systems. In 2016, only first-time participants will be eligible for a 90-day reporting period.


Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Update
By Tim Miller, Senior Program Manager, State Affairs and Grassroots 

Five states have now enacted the Federal Society of Medical Board's (FSMB) Interstate Medical Licensure Compact-South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia. Several states have legislation pending. For the compact to become official two more states would need to enact it.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a proposal put forward by the FSMB, would streamline the state medical licensure process, which would improve physician license portability and increase access to patient care. Visit www.licenseportability.org to learn more.


BRAIN Initiative Letter of Support
By Amber Stock, Program Manager, Advocacy 

One of the issues for the AAN's recent Neurology on the Hill was increasing funding for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH. AAN advocates asked their members of Congress to sign a letter supporting an FY2016 appropriation of $135 million for the program which will map the brain.

The letter to the House Appropriations Committee co-authored by Reps. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) garnered 41 congressional signers. During their visits to Capitol Hill, Neurology on the Hill attendees were the first group of advocates to ask members of Congress to sign the letter and met with more than 70 percent of the offices that eventually signed. With that success behind us, we will now work to ensure that the Appropriations Committee includes the funding. The AAN thanks the following members of Congress who signed the letter supporting funding for the BRAIN Initiative.

  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  • Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)
  • Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
  • Rep. Donald Beyer, Jr. (D-VA)
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA)
  • Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)
  • Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
  • Rep. John Delaney (D-MD)
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
  • Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)
  • Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
  • Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
  • Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA)
  • Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
  • Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
  • Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH)
  • Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
  • Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
  • Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA)
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL)
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
  • Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Rep. David Scott (D-SC)
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
  • Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)
  • Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) 

Open Payments Review
Neurologists can register through the CMS Open Payments program and review their 2014 CY data beginning Monday, April 6. The official 45-day review and dispute period runs from April 6 through May 20. Disputes initiated by May 20 will be flagged in the public release on June 30. Since August 1, 2013, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers have been tracking payments and gifts of $10 or more given to physicians and submitting this data to CMS. AAN will continue to update members on important deadlines related to Open Payments. Learn More.

Annual Meeting Events

  • Policy and Advocacy with the Government Relations Committee (I Talk)
    Tuesday, April 21, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    Convention Center - Innovation Room
    This event provides the opportunity to learn about the roles and responsibilities of the Government Relations Committee and how their advocacy impacts members. Interact with successful advocates as they share their success stories and challenges. A member of Congress or a congressional staff member will address key issues in neurology and relationship building between physician constituents and Congress. 
  • How to Hug a Porcupine: Relationship Building with Congress and Why it's Important (I Talk)
    Tuesday, April 21, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Convention Center - Innovation Room
    Building relationships with elected officials can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable. It forces you and your key stakeholders to get close to politicians in ways that may feel “prickly”-like hugging a porcupine. This program will help participants overcome that discomfort, revealing the methods and benefits for building relationships with elected officials. 

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