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Capitol Hill Report: Despite Congress Recess, No Rest for AAN Advocacy

August 21, 2017

Congress continues its August recess, but a few things are happening behind the scenes and the AAN Government Relations Committee is preparing for the final push on many issues in 2017. First, the climate for regulatory relief for physicians is warming.

  • In June, AAN Immediate Past President Terrence L. Cascino, MD, FAAN, was asked by the House Republican Doctors Caucus to address them on physician burnout and the regulatory burdens that neurologists are facing. 
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and former member of Congress, has supported alleviating physician regulatory burden since taking office in January.
  • At the end of July, Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), the chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee announced a new initiative to reduce Medicare regulations and mandates and seeks feedback from providers.
    • The AAN will respond by describing some of the regulatory burdens that impact physicians and negatively impact the patients they serve including:
      • Prior authorization
      • Certification and documentation burdens imposed by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
      • Electronic health record vendor data blocking and interoperability problems

GRC Meeting Determines Action Steps
The AAN Government Relations Committee (GRC) met August 4-5 in Minneapolis to discuss federal and state policy issues, advocacy events, and member engagement. Action items included:

  • Revisions to the 2014 Position Statement on Medical Marijuana
  • Increased engagement by the GRC on the opioid epidemic and greater partnership with the AAN Practice Committee
    • Last week, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency
    • The CDC awarded more than $12 million to 23 states and Washington, DC, to programs that facilitate better tracking of opioid-related overdoses and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs
  • Increased local engagement efforts through the 2017 Neurology off the Hill pilot project
  • Updates to the 2018 Neurology on the Hill application process

AAN Advocacy Staff Visits Alabama

  • Last week, AAN staff visited the Alabama Academy of Neurology's 2017 Annual Conference in Montgomery. Over 40 members in attendance enjoyed a comprehensive program that included topics such as quality measures, stroke treatment, MACRA, and movement disorders. State neurosocieties provide educational, advocacy, and networking opportunities on a local level and are critical as we all continue to work on demonstrating the value of neurology. If you are interested in attending a state neurological society meeting in your state, visit the AAN's list of 2017 fall meetings

  AAN Advocates in the News

  • A new report published in JAMA found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in nearly 100 percent of the brains of athletes examined at a Boston brain bank, raising questions about the prevalence of brain disease in athletes. 2009 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum graduate Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, FAAN was quoted in a CNN story on the report.
  • 2010 PALF graduate Lynne Taylor, MD, FAAN, was quoted in an NPR article on Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's glioblastoma diagnosis.

If you missed it, AAN sent a Special Capitol Hill Report last week.
Members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced the start of an in-depth investigation into the dramatic increases in costs for multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs. The AAN applauds Congress for recognizing this crisis, and will continue to advocate for neurology patients to have access to the medications they need.

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