Capitol Hill Report: Fees, Funding, Fraternizing—and ICD-10

July 20, 2015

By Daniel Spirn, Regulatory Counsel

AAN Evaluating Proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule
On July 8, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed its regulations that impact how neurologists are paid. The proposed rule updates payment policies and rates for physicians paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) in 2016. CMS currently projects that overall allowed charges for neurologists will remain neutral for next year.

The proposed MPFS contains several positive developments for neurology, highlighting our continued efforts to develop a proactive relationship with CMS. The AAN is pleased to see the CMS proposal offering to fund Medicare payments for advance care planning. The AAN has continuously advocated for this coverage and participated in defining and valuing these codes. Additionally, after several meetings between the AAN and CMS this past year, the agency is now offering an opportunity to increase reimbursement for cognitive care and improve accuracy of payments for care coordination.

The AAN staff continues to review the proposal and its potential impact on neurologists. The AAN will submit formal comments to CMS by the agency's September 8 deadline.

21st Century Cures Bill Moves Forward
By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

The House continued its string of successful bipartisan health policy moves with a huge vote in favor of the 21st Century Cures, a piece of legislation working towards comprehensive reform of the "discovery, development, and delivery" of health care.

The AAN participated in the drafting of 21st Century Cures throughout the year-long process, as previously reported in Capitol Hill Report. After passing through the Energy & Commerce Committee on a unanimous 51 - 0 vote, the bill passed the full House with overwhelming approval by a vote of 344 - 77, just a little short of the 393 - 39 vote the House took on SGR just a few months ago.

The AAN is particularly proud of the provisions that will provide an increase of more than $8 billion to NIH and the creation of a national neurologic disease surveillance system to better track trends in the diseases treated by neurologists, especially MS and Parkinson's.

This weekend, I had an opportunity to discuss this vote with more than 20 members of the Republican House during the National Republican Congressional Committee's summer retreat in western Pennsylvania. Two of the more memorable conversations I had were with Speaker John Boehner (OH) and Whip Steve Scalise (LA), who I thanked for the steps the House has taken in this Congress to improve patient care and access to neurologists.

The retreat also offered the opportunity to introduce neurology to a number of freshmen House members. As usual, I met members of Congress who have been impacted by neurologic conditions, like Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA), who I learned spent his career in medical rehabilitation working side by side with neurologists. I imagine we will be working with Rep. Thompson on neurology issues in the near future.

Next weekend, I'll focus on the Democrats, attending one of their retreats on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Medicare ICD-10 Grace Period Announced
By Luana Ciccarelli, Program Manager, Medical Economics

The American Medical Association and CMS announced a “grace period” for the October 1, 2015, implementation of ICD-10-CM. As part of the grace period, Medicare claims will not be denied solely on the specificity of the ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes as long as the submitted code is from an appropriate family of codes. Learn more about the grace period.


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