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Capitol Hill Report: We’re Going to the Hill and Need Your Support!

February 23, 2015

By Mike Amery, Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

There Is Much at Stake for Neurology
Next week, 170 AAN members from 42 states will head to Capitol Hill for the 13th annual Neurology on the Hill (NOH) event and they need your help to raise the voice of neurology in the halls of Congress. Here is a quick summary of three issues AAN members will be advocating for during their meetings with members of Congress:

  • Sustainable Growth Rate Formula
    We have been laying the groundwork for months to get a full repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Congress has until March 31 to repeal or at least patch the SGR. Last week, I met with some of the top Republicans decision-makers including GOP physician Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to press for a repeal. 

    With just a month to go before a 21-percent cut in physician payments throws the entire Medicare program into chaos, Neurology on the Hill advocates will be on the front line. We will be asking for a complete repeal of the SGR so, once and for all, physicians can move away from the failed system with constant threats of cuts to a new Medicare payment system that ensures that America’s seniors have access to the physicians they need. 
  • BRAIN Initiative
    In addition to looking for support for a SGR repeal, AAN members will be championing brain research funding at the National Institutes of Health. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative was launched in 2013, as a bold new effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. NIH and its partners are driving the development and use of innovative technologies to produce a clearer, dynamic picture of the brain, but the initiative needs more funding. AAN advocates will look to move funding for this program by asking members of Congress to sign a letter of support developed by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and a longtime champion of neuroscience research.
  • Saving Lives, Saving Costs
    The third issue for NOH is the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act by Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Ami Bera, MD, (D-CA). Nearly 75 percent of physicians will be sued at some point in their careers. The AAN puts a lot of time and resources into developing evidence-based clinical care guidelines. The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act will allow physicians to rely on these guidelines as a defense when being sued for malpractice. Malpractice reform routinely appears in the top three of federal issues in AAN member polls. It would be great to get comprehensive reform, but that just isn’t going to happen in the current political climate, so we are taking a common-sense step forward by supporting this bi-partisan effort focusing on guidelines.

Can You Back Us Up?
As these AAN advocates go into their congressional offices, we ask that all AAN members send a similar message on SGR reform to members of Congress. Please watch early next week for an AAN Action Alert email so you can participate. You can also keep up with all the action on Twitter at #NOH15 and by following @AANmember, @MikeAmeryDC, @DerekBrandtDC, and @TimMiller_AAN.

As always, we will let you know how it goes in the next issue of Capitol Hill Report.


Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: Myths vs. Facts
By Tim Miller, Senior Program Manager, State Affairs and Grassroots

Several questions have risen within the physician community about the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) Interstate Compact proposal, including the issue of maintenance of certification. Recently, the FSMB addressed these issues.

Regarding maintenance of certification, the FSMB states:

MYTH: It is alleged that physicians participating in the Compact would be required to participate in Maintenance of Certification (MOC), or that MOC is an eligibility requirement for the Compact.

FACT: The Compact makes absolutely no reference to Maintenance of Certification (MOC) or its osteopathic counterpart, Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC). The Compact does not require a physician to participate in MOC at any stage, nor does it require or even make mention of the need to participate in MOC as a licensure renewal requirement in any state. Board certification is only an eligibility factor at the initial entry point of participation in the Compact process.

Read the complete “Six Myths about the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.”

Odds & Ends

  • The AAN recently submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on its discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures Initiative.
  • The Board of Directors of the AAN has approved the Academy's latest position statement: Availability of Disease Modifying Therapies (DMT) for Treatment of Relapsing Forms of Multiple Sclerosis. The AAN urges access to all DMT for treating individuals with relapsing forms of MS when they have the potential to provide clinical benefit. If step therapy programs are used, these programs should be driven by evidence-based clinical and safety data, and not just cost. This position statement was endorsed by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, the International Organization of MS Nurses, and the MS Coalition.

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