ePolicy News November 2017

Nov 01, 2017
Read the latest ASCP policy news from Washington, DC.

ABIM Recognizes ASCP’s Choosing Wisely Contributions

The ABIM Foundation marked its fifth anniversary of the Choosing Wisely campaign by holding a conference with the journal, Health Affairs, in Washington, D.C. Choosing Wisely: Opportunities and Challenges in Curbing Medical Overuse, discussed what has been accomplished by the campaign thus far and also provided insight as to where the campaign is headed. Choosing Wisely now involves more than 80 medical specialty society partners and more than 525 specialty society recommendations on overused tests, treatments and procedures. According to the ABIM Foundation, the success of the Choosing Wisely campaign is built upon the leadership of its medical society partners, many of which have taken steps to educate their members on how they can put the campaign’s ideals in action.

ASCP was featured as an example of “clinicians leading the way” in the e-publication distributed to attendees and partners. The ASCP has recently added five tests to the list it considers unnecessary or potentially harmful as part of its Choosing Wisely campaign commitment. The list has now grown to 20 recommendations. Two of ASCP’s recommendations were featured at the event as a poster. “Don’t perform population based screening for 25-OH-Vitamin D deficiency” and “Don’t perform low risk HPV testing” were chosen by the ASCP Choosing Wisely Steering Committee because they represent activities that raise awareness about overuse and have helped motivate physicians and health system leaders to implement change.

ASCP Urges CMS to Withdraw Revised Medicare Lab Fee Schedule

Due to serious concerns about the preliminary payment rates proposed by CMS and flaws with CMS’ data collection efforts and methodology, ASCP has urged CMS to withdraw its proposed revised laboratory payment rates. CMS released the new fee schedule, which proposes cuts of 10 percent or more for many of the nearly 1,300 laboratory services on the fee schedule, with the expectation that these rates could be implemented as soon as Jan. 1, 2018. ASCP is actively opposed to moving forward with the revised fee schedule. In a letter to CMS dated Oct. 23, 2017, ASCP wrote that because CMS purposely excluded hospitals from reporting their payment data, the median payment rates calculated by the Agency do not reflect the true market prices for laboratory services, which was a legal requirement imposed on the Agency by Congress. ASCP objected to a set of simulations used by CMS to dismiss the idea that had more data been submitted, either by physician office labs or hospital labs, that it would not have affected payment rates. ASCP noted that the simulations used by CMS massively under-represented the true market for laboratory services and were unrealistic. ASCP also object to CMS’ practice of exceeding the maximum percentage reductions allowed by Congress (10 percent during this reporting cycle) for certain tests. In addition to submitting formal comments in opposition to CMS’ proposed payment rates, ASCP has recently run several action alerts to urge intervention by federal policymakers. If you have not recently written to your representatives in Washington, D.C., ASCP urges you to use the ASCP eAdvocacy Center to do so.

ASCP Meets with CMS Administrator Seema Verma

On Oct. 24, ASCP met with Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The meeting was part of CMS’ new “Patients over Paperwork” initiative. The initiative is intended to support the Agency’s interest in reducing regulatory burdens and enhancing regulatory reform. CMS is actively seeking areas where regulatory burden can be rolled back in a manner that does not compromise quality patient care. Administrator Verma noted that CMS is focusing attention on the quality measures reporting requirements under the Quality Payment Program. She indicated that CMS would try to streamline the number of quality measures used by hospitals and physicians to focus on those that provide the most tangible improvements in quality and patient outcomes. ASCP will monitor CMS’ progress on regulatory reform as it affects the field of pathology and laboratory medicine.

The Opiate Epidemic and Pathology

What caused the opiate epidemic and how does it affect your laboratory and pathologists?
Mary Ann Sens, MD, PhD, FASCP, Executive Vice President for the National Association of Medical Examiners, discusses the causes of the opiate epidemic and its impact and relationships to laboratories and medical examiners. Read her article here.

For more information regarding ASCP's advocacy initiatives and policy positions, please contact ASCP's Center for Public Policy at (202-347-4450).

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