Read the latest ASCP policy news from Washington, DC.
ASCP, ABP Issue Joint Statement on Maintenance of Certification
ASCP and the American Board of Pathology issued a joint statement on the value of Maintenance of Certification (MOC) on May 31. In it, the ASCP and ABP note that because of rapidly evolving technological changes, new approaches to patient care, and the social contract between society and the medical profession, pathologists must keep abreast of the latest advancements in pathology and laboratory medicine to ensure optimum patient outcomes. ASCP and ABP believe that quality medicine and healthy outcomes are dependent on the competency of each physician, and this "should be accomplished through high quality, relevant, accessible, independent, and cost-effective educational activities that integrate life-long learning, continuous quality, and other strategic learning tools. Incorporating Continuing Medical Education (CME) with MOC helps ensure the continuous competence of pathologists with the goal of improving patient care." The two medical associations outlined that the ABP's MOC program "supports the social contract between the public and the medical profession to help ensure its place as a well-regarded, trusted profession."
Jane Pine Wood, CMS Official Headline ASCP Annual Meeting Policy Discussion
Jane Pine Wood, Chief Legal Counsel and Compliance Officer with BioReference Laboratories, and Patricia A. Meier, MD, a Chief Medical Officer and Pathologist with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will be headlining ASCP’s Annual Meeting policy session with Greg Sossaman, MD, FASCP, Chair of ASCP’s Commission on Science, Technology and Policy. The session, titled “How Can Washington Work for You?” will include a discussion of the major federal healthcare policies affecting pathology and laboratory medicine.” Panel members will discuss Congressional Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, regulatory burden reduction and the reform of Medicare and Medicaid, including the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA)/Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). The session will be provided on Thursday, Sept. 7, from 4:40 to 6:10PM.
Senate GOP Continue ACA Repeal Efforts
On June 22, the Senate’s Republican leadership released draft legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill would reduce the ACA’s financial assistance provided to individuals with lower or middle incomes to purchase insurance. The measure, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, would lower the ACA’s subsidies from 400 percent of the federal poverty level to 350 percent. The bill would also repeal most of the ACA’s taxes and the individual mandate to buy coverage as well as the employer mandate to offer it. The bill outlines a slower timetable for ending the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but proposes far more aggressive cuts to Medicaid, which would likely force states to reduce eligibility, benefits and/or payments to providers. The Senate bill, unlike the House Republican measure, would not allow states to opt out of key protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. After the bill was introduced, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office provided its analysis of the bill indicating that the measure would increase the ranks of the uninsured by approximately 21 million. Soon thereafter, a number of Republican Senators announced their opposition or concern with the measure. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the principle architect of the bill, was forced to shelve plans to bring the bill up for a vote prior to the July 4th holiday. Sen. McConnell is now working to develop a new draft bill that he hopes will address concerns of the 50 Republican senators needed to secure the bill’s passage. Senate Democrats have maintained united opposition to the legislation.
Federal Physician Workforce Efforts Insufficient, GAO Says
The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a report warning that federal efforts to develop the physician workforce are insufficient to meet projected needs. This is critical because a well-trained healthcare force in all parts of the country is required to provide to access to quality health services. The report noted that federal physician workforce efforts, largely carried out through graduate medical education, have not resulted in much change in the locations and types of graduate medical training provided. With the physician workforce suffering from workforce issues similar to those of the allied healthcare workforce, the GAO reported familiar concerns. Acknowledging these broader workforce needs, GAO reissued its 2015 recommendation that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “develop a comprehensive and coordinated plan for its healthcare workforce programs, which is critical to identifying any other efforts necessary to meet these needs.” Such an effort might help better align federal workforce efforts with the most pressing healthcare workforce needs, such as those for laboratory personnel. For more information, click here.
How Pathologists Can Avoid Medicare Payment Penalties [VIDEO]
This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented the Quality Payment Program (QPP), a new physician payment system created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). In order to avoid payment penalties, physicians need to know how to participate and understand the QPP’s “pick your pace” reporting options. The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed a short video, which pathologists can view for step-by-step instructions on how to report and avoid a negative 4 percent payment adjustment in 2019. In 2016, ASCP successfully urged CMS to provide a timeline allowing providers to transition into the QPP program. CMS took these recommendations, and in 2017, physicians must only report one quality measure for one patient to avoid a payment penalty in 2019 under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). For more resources on QPP reporting, including links to CMS’ quality measure tools and an example of what a completed 1500 billing form looks like, visit ama-assn.org/qpp-reporting.
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