April 24, 2017

By Daniel Spirn, Regulatory Counsel

Regulatory Advocacy in Action: AAN Asks HHS Secretary to Reduce Burdens on Neurologists

On April 13, I was privileged to meet with US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Dr. Tom Price and his staff to discuss regulatory burdens faced by neurologists as they strive to provide the highest quality of care for their patients. As we noted in our last Capitol Hill Report, reducing regulatory burdens on neurologists is a major priority of the AAN. In this meeting, the AAN and a small group of partners offered legal and regulatory guidance to the Secretary on how to help reduce the administrative burdens on physicians across the country.

Since physicians face penalties in 2018 if they did not successfully participate in several programs in 2016, we provided options to remove those burdens. We presented HHS with legal guidance arguing the Secretary has the authority to eliminate the value-modifier penalty for 2018 adjustment period. We believe the value modifier has produced skewed results that fail to reflect the relative value of neurologic care to Medicare beneficiaries. Furthermore, we also called upon HHS to issue a broad “hardship exemption” for Meaningful Use to avoid penalties in 2018 along with relief from the required measures under the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). Finally, I personally asked HHS to evaluate Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRURs) so they can be more easily accessed and understood by neurologists.

The value modifier, electronic health record Meaningful Use program, and PQRS will soon be legacy programs as HHS implements MACRA. However, our proposed reforms would directly benefit neurologists today. Be certain that we will continue our advocacy on improving MACRA to be more reflective of the value provided by neurologists. Together, these actions are a part of the AAN's commitment to reducing regulatory hassle on neurologists and an effort to increase the joy in practicing neurology that our physicians should be experiencing each day. As HHS said in our meeting, “[the agency] wants to get doctors back into the practice of medicine,” not simply being data-entry clerks and following administrative checklists. The AAN could not agree more.

Visit Us at the Annual Meeting

By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel

Congress comes back to DC today after a two-week recess. With all the issues facing physicians and patients, I hope you had a chance to attend one of the many town hall meetings held across America over the break.

The AAN Annual Meeting kicked off this weekend in Boston, MA. I will be in Boston for the entire meeting and I would like to hear what you are thinking about when it comes to what is going on in Congress! I will be at the BrainPAC booth in the convention center and giving several advocacy presentations. Please stop by and talk to me, Derek Brandt, our senior congressional affairs representative, or Natalie Pontzer, our new BrainPAC manager.