Advocacy news briefing

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AADA, coalition oppose federal bill to expand audiologists’ scope of practice

May 18, 2018

The AADA joined other physician organizations in strongly opposing legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 2575) to include audiologists in the definition of “physician,” which would allow them unlimited direct access to Medicare beneficiaries without a physician referral. The letter cites patient safety concerns, confusion regarding the qualifications and training of various health care providers, and concerns about broadening the term "physician" to include non-physician health care providers. Click here to read the letter opposing the legislation.


AADA highlights telehealth's role in ensuring access to board-certified dermatologists

April 26, 2018

The AADA highlighted its work with AccessDerm and Project Echo in a statement for the record for a congressional hearing entitled “Innovation in Health Care." The hearing, which was held by the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health, focused primarily on telehealth.

In its statement, the AADA reiterated the Academy's mission to improve the quality of dermatologic care available to underserved populations in the United States by facilitating access to board-certified dermatologists. Read the statement.


AMA, AADA call for reduced 2018 MIPS quality reporting period

April 20, 2018

The American Medical Association recently led letter calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reduce the 2018 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) quality measure reporting performance period due to CMS delays as well as administrative burdens associated with reporting. The AADA joined nearly 50 medical associations in signing onto the letter. Read the letter here.

The letter asks that the 2018 MIPS reporting period be reduced from a full calendar year to a minimum of 90 consecutive days as the result of a lack of timely, direct notification regarding whether a physician is MIPS-eligible. Furthermore, the Quality Payment Program (QPP) website will not be updated with 2018 information until the summer of 2018, at the earliest. This will make it difficult for physicians to meet the full-year quality data reporting requirements for 2018. The letter also calls for a reduced reporting period for future MIPS program years to reduce administrative burdens.


AADA pushes for more advanced sunscreen ingredients to market

March 23, 2018

In a letter regarding the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Safety, Innovation and Reform Act (S. 2315), the AADA wrote in support of the introduction of new sunscreen ingredients that are safe and effective, and also for maintaining access to current sunscreen ingredients. While the letter encourages efforts to get more advanced sunscreen ingredients to market, the AADA is neutral on the remainder of the legislation. Read more.


AADA submits statement on MACRA implementation

March 21, 2018

The House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health held an oversight hearing today entitled "Implementation of MACRA's Physician Payment Policies." The AADA submitted a statement for the committee hearing record, which highlighted ongoing concerns with 1) attribution of costs under the cost performance category of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS); 2) concerns regarding the measures approval process for Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDRs) like DataDerm; and 3) the blocking of electronic health record data from being accessed by QCDRs. Read the statement.


AADA, other specialties continue pressing FDA on drug shortages

February 23, 2018

The AADA was joined by other specialties in advocating that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) build upon working relationships with manufacturers to address drug shortages that continue having adverse impacts on patients. In their letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, the organizations specifically express concern regarding ongoing shortages of lidocaine with epinephrine, lidocaine, and other local anesthetics, and suggest ways the FDA could engage. Read the letter.

Learn more about the AADA’s advocacy on drug shortages.

 


Anthem RESCINDS proposed modifier 25 policy in win for AADA, AMA, patient care

February 23, 2018

Anthem, Inc. today announced it is rescinding its proposed policy to reduce reimbursement by 25% for E/M services billed with a modifier 25. Anthem’s initial proposal had been a 50% cut, which they reduced and delayed 3 months in response to AADA advocacy. Recent AADA advocacy included a letter to Anthem earlier this week encouraging the payer to retract its policy. 

Learn more in the President's Message from AAD/A President Suzanne Olbricht, MD.


Academy members discuss improving access to care

February 17, 2017

For the third year, the Academy held a learning collaborative to provide a forum for members to share ideas for how to improve access to dermatologic care for patients and other physicians. At the Access to care Learning Collaborative, several speakers each presented a case in which their unique way of increasing access better served an individual patient.

Access to Care Learning Collaborative


Stopgap funding bill includes health care wins

February 9, 2018

The AADA is pleased with a bill passed by Congress today that, in addition to funding the government through March 23, repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and stops an effort to extend the misvalued codes policy, two top AADA legislative priorities.

These successes culminate efforts by hundreds of AADA members who lobbied their members of Congress at annual AADA Legislative Conferences, in response to grassroots calls to action, and in comment letters to Congressional leaders.

IPAB created the potential to impose indiscriminate new payment cuts on physicians, while the misvalued codes policy required CMS to cut the Medicare Fee Schedule by .5% by correcting “misvalued” codes or through across-the-board cuts.

Additionally the bill includes AADA-supported provisions that:

  • Relieve MACRA burdens through adjustments to MIPS, including eliminating mandates that EHR standards become more stringent each year.
  • Expand access to telehealth services within Medicare Advantage beginning in 2020.
  • Fund Community Health Centers for two years. 

While the Academy applauds the above positive actions, concerns remain about provisions that lower automatic updates to the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule from .5% to .25% and extend mandatory Medicare Sequestration cuts another year. The bill also reduces funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which covers skin cancer prevention, among other priorities. The Academy will continue longstanding advocacy efforts supporting fair and reasonable Medicare payment and adequate funding for prevention and public health awareness.

On February 7, the AADA provided its comments regarding provisions in the legislation. Look for additional updates on how these changes will affect dermatologists in upcoming issues of Dermatology World Weekly and on AAD.org.​


AADA testified before Congress on compounding issues

January 30, 2017

Bruce A. Brod, MD, FAAD, Chair of the AADA's Congressional Policy Committee, today testified on office-use compounded medications and in-office preparations before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. Also among those testifying were Scott Gottlieb, MD, who serves as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Click here for more information on the hearing, to watch the hearing, and to read Dr. Brod's statement for the record.

 Dr. Brod at E&C on compounding issues Photo by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


AADA congratulates HHS Secretary Azar, encourages reg. relief efforts

January 24, 2018

The AADA congratulated Alex Azar on his appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services after his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a vote of 55-43. In its letter of congratulations, the AADA expressed appreciation for ongoing efforts to advance regulatory relief initiatives that alleviate burdens on physicians. The AADA also encouraged further collaboration in lifting burdensome regulations such as drug prior authorization requirements and requirements threatening access to compounded medications. Click here to read the letter.


AADA joins letter opposing modifier 25, other Anthem payment changes

January 16, 2018

The AADA joined medical specialty societies and patient advocacy groups in sending a letter to Anthem's chief clinical officer to express concerns about controversial changes to Anthem payment policies. The letter urges the insurer to rescind plans to 1) reduce physicians' reimbursement when they bill for E&M services billed with a modifier 25, 2) largely deny advanced imaging performed in the hospital outpatient setting, and 3) deny coverage for services provided to beneficiaries for retroactively determined "non-emergent" health care services in the Emergency Department. The letter states that "Anthem finalized these changes despite mounting evidence that the justification for the policies is flawed and would hinder patients' access to physician care."

Click here to read the letter.


AADA comments on 2018 Medicare physician fee schedule & Quality Payment Program/MACRA rules

December 29, 2017

The AADA submitted comments on the 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule as well as the final rule for the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP), established under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Both rules were released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November.

Click here to read the AADA's comments on the 2018 Medicare Physician Free Schedule rule.

Click here to read comments on the 2018 Quality Payment Program/MACRA rule.


Anthem delays, alters proposed modifier 25 policy following AADA, AMA advocacy

December 22, 2017

Anthem, Inc. announced on Dec. 22, 2017 that, while it will still be reducing reimbursement for E&M services billed with a modifier 25, reimbursement will be reduced by 25 percent rather than by 50 percent, as was originally announced. Anthem also announced that the policy will go into effect March 1, 2018 in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For some states, this is a delay in implementation. Anthem also indicated that the policy will be effective in Georgia and Virginia upon network contract renewal. Click here to read the Academy's Breaking News Alert for more on the American Academy of Dermatology Association's efforts to fight Anthem's proposed policy change along with the American Medical Association (AMA), other medical specialties, and state dermatologic societies.

 


AADA opposes misvalued codes, urges action on sequester

December 20, 2017

The AADA sent a letter to leadership of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives opposing Medicare cuts to physician payments through either an extension of the misvalued codes policy or through an additional sequester of Medicare funds. To read the letter, click here.


AADA letter to Senate Cancer Coalition supporting tanning tax

December 19, 2017

The AADA sent a letter to members of the Senate Cancer Coalition reiterating the Academy's continued support for the excise tax on indoor tanning services, and opposing its repeal through the Tanning Tax Repeal Act of 2017 (H.R. 1150) or other mechanisms including but not limited to efforts to extend expiring Medicare provisions, measures to address certain health-related tax measures, or in any appropriations-related legislation. Click here to read the letter.


AADA, coalition letter on preserving patient access to Part B treatments

December 6, 2017

Several medical societies including the American Academy of Dermatology Association sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to preserve patients' access to critical Part B drug treatments by preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from applying Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) score adjustments to Medicare Part B payments. In its 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) final rule, CMS announced it will be imposing these payment adjustments to Part B drug payments in addition to physicians' services under the Medicare fee schedule.  The letter requests a technical correction to curtail this policy and preserve patient access to the services and treatments they need.  To read the letter, click here.


AMA HOD adopts modifier 25 resolution

November 14, 2017

The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) has adopted a resolution that was authored by the American Academy of Dermatology delegation and Dermatology Section Council (DSC) to address insurers’ attempts to reduce reimbursement for modifier 25. The resolution, triggered by recent announcements that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Independence Blue Cross will reduce reimbursement for modifier 25 in several states, calls on the AMA to aggressively and immediately advocate through any legal means to see that insurers comply with accepted CPT coding and reimbursement guidelines.

Furthermore, the AMA President and AMA Board Chair met with the DSC to address the AADA's concerns, and stated that they would act aggressively in opposition to these types of policies.

Final language of the resolution:

RESOLVED: That our American Medical Association aggressively and immediately advocate through any legal means possible, including direct payer negotiations, regulations, legislation, or litigation, to ensure when an evaluation and management (E&M) code is appropriately reported with a modifier 25, that both the procedure and E&M codes are paid at the non-reduced, allowable payment rate.

Additionally, the AADA and state dermatologic societies sent a letter to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) highlighting concerns with BCBSA member plans' proposals to reduce reimbursement for modifier 25 in several states effective January 1, 2018. To read the letter, click here.


AADA, state derm societies fight modifier 25 policy change with BCBSA, at AMA

November 13, 2017

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) and state dermatologic societies today sent a letter to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) highlighting concerns with BCBSA member plans' proposal to reduce reimbursement for modifier 25 in several states effective January 1, 2018. To read the letter, click here.

Additionally, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates will be voting on a resolution that addresses insurers' attempts to reduce reimbursement for modifier 25. The AADA has led the efforts in drafting the resolution, which calls on the AMA to urge insurers to comply with accepted CPT coding and reimbursement guidelines.

The Academy has developed a number of resources for members on appropriate usage and documentation of modifier 25. To sign up for updates on modifier 25 advocacy efforts, fill out the form here.


2018 Medicare physician fee schedule & Quality Payment Program/MACRA rules out today, House passes IPAB repeal

November 2, 2017 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today released the 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule as well as the final rule for the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP), established under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). CMS indicates these rules reflect the agency’s broader strategy of relieving regulatory burdens for providers, particularly for small and solo practices. Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which would be charged with making significant cuts to Medicare when government spending on the program reaches a certain threshold. Much of what is being announced today reflects wins for the Academy, and is a result of the AADA’s regulatory relief priority and advocacy over the past 10 months.

Read the AADA breaking news alert with more information. While the House today passed legislation repealing IPAB, it is unclear whether the Senate will also act. Send a letter to your Senators in favor of IPAB repeal through the AADA’s Advocacy Action Center.


AADA fights modifier 25 policy change

October 27, 2017

The American Academy of Dermatology (AADA) is concerned about payers' policy to reduce reimbursement for modifier 25, and is working closely with state dermatology societies and other medical specialty societies in an effort to reverse this policy. Today the AADA held a conference call with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which will be reducing reimbursement for modifier 25 in California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin starting with claims processed on or after Jan. 1. The AADA expressed its concerns that the policy contradicts well-accepted coding conventions and guidelines, and also issued a letter to Anthem in conjunction state dermatology societies further explaining that the policy is an inappropriate reduction of modifier 25 and should be reconsidered.

The AADA will continue fighting this policy change. To sign up for updates on modifier 25 advocacy efforts, fill out the form here.


AADA supports federal bill on truth in advertising

October 23, 2017

U.S. Representatives Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.), a thoracic surgeon, and David Scott (D-Ga.) recently introduced the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act (H.R. 3928). This bipartisan consumer protection bill will help ensure patients have reliable information regarding the delivery of their medical care, empowering them to make medical decisions that are best for themselves and their families. To read the AADA's letter supporting this legislation, click here.
 
In addition to fighting for truth in advertising and strengthened scope of practice regulations, the Academy has developed resources for members to get involved. Find out more on our Truth in Advertising and Scope of Practice pages, including how you can submit an issue of concern to the Academy.


Academy comments on proposed ’18 Fee Schedule

September 7, 2017

The AADA has submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) its comments on the proposed 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which was released in July.  In its comments letter, the AADA requests a number of technical changes to the proposed valuation of specific codes, recommends that CMS accept RVU Update Committee (RUC)-recommended times and RVUs, and expresses concern regarding prior authorization requirements, drug pricing, and modifier 25 payment reduction policies.  The AADA also indicates its full support of CMS’ proposal to reduce the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements of 6 measures down from the current program policy of 9 measures.  In addition, the AADA appreciates that CMS proposed to accept our recommendation to reduce the maximum Value Modifier penalty in 2018 from 4% to 2%.

Click here to read AADA comments on the proposed rule.  The final 2018 Fee Schedule rule is expected to be released in November. 


AADA sends regulatory relief recs to Medicare Red Tape Relief Project

August 25, 2017 

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) today sent a letter to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee offering recommendations for the Committee’s Medicare Red Tape Relief Project ― an initiative that seeks to mitigate burdensome Medicare regulations. Among several recommendations, the AADA suggested the streamlining of drug prior-authorization requirements.


CMS releases proposed 2018 Medicare Fee Schedule

July 13, 2017

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today released the proposed 2018 Medicare Fee Schedule. Read the AADA breaking news alert with more information. AADA staff continues to analyze the rule, will be publishing other analyses, and plans to submit comments to CMS by September 11, 2017.


AADA supports House-passed medical liability reform legislation

June 28, 2017

With medical liability relief being among its health system reform principles, the AADA supported the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215) to provide reforms to current medical liability laws and reduce health costs associated with defensive medicine. The legislation passed the House of Representatives on June 28. A letter offering the Academy's support for the legislation had been sent to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and a similar letter of support was sent by the Health Coalition on Liability and Access.


AADA opposes tanning tax repeal in BCRA

June 26, 2017

With the U.S. Senate expected to vote this week on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), its version of legislation to repeal provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the AADA sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to maintain the tax on indoor tanning services. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that repealing the tax would "...reduce revenues by approximately $622 million over the next 10 years, thereby ending a funding source that could be used to address other pressing public health challenges and priorities."  Click here to read the letter.


2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) proposed rule just released

June 20, 2017 

Late this afternoon, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) released its anticipated proposed rule outlining policies for the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP). The American Academy of Dermatology Association is pleased that CMS has listened to physician groups such as ours and incorporated several important changes to the program. Read more.


AADA supports bill to ensure access to compounded drugs

June 16, 2017

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) have introduced legislation to address the unintended consequences of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) interpretation of the Drug Quality and Security Act and facilitate physician access to compounded drugs for administration in a clinical setting. The AADA has sent a letter of support for the legislation, titled the Preserving Patient Access to Compounded Medications Act (H.R. 2871).


Lawmakers push FDA to rescind guidance on compounding

May 24, 2017

Congressmen Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) spearheaded a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb urging the agency to rescind Guidance for Industry issued in December 2016 that restricts physician and patient access to compounded drugs for office-use. This letter, which was signed by 65 members of the House of Representatives, was supported by the AADA and the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) Coalition.


AADA sends advocacy positions and priorities to Senate Finance Chairman

May 23, 2017

In response to a request from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, for comments on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AADA has sent a letter highlighting the Academy's advocacy positions and priorities.  This letter also includes a copy of the AADA's Health System Reform Principles.  Click here to read the letter.


AADA supports Congressional resolution urging childhood skin protection

May 3, 2017

On behalf of the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus, U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (D-Pa.) ― along with Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), and Evan Jenkins (R-W. Va.) ― has again introduced a resolution (H. Res. 282) encouraging state, local, and community efforts to grant access to sunscreens in schools and expand access to sun safety in camps and other child care centers. The resolution also supports initiatives that encourage health care providers to educate parents and children about sun-safe behaviors. A similar resolution was introduced in the last Congress.

Academy President Henry W. Lim, MD, FAAD, has submitted a letter of support for H. Res. 282. Click here to read the letter.