June 27, 2014

Lead Story:
VA Health Care Bill Moves to Conference
In a rare return to regular legislative order, select members of the U.S. House and Senate will resolve differences in the Veterans Affairs Access to Care bill via a formal Congressional Conference Committee. Several members from the House “Doc Caucus” will serve on the Committee, including Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN), Rep. Dan Benishek, MD (R-MI), and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH). The bill would allow veterans who are not within a specified distance of a VA medical facility to seek care from non-VA providers, among other things. For quick updates on this bill and other pending legislation, follow Government Affairs on Twitter @AAOHNSGovtaffrs.

Action Requested:
No Baggage Fees – Plan Your I-GO Event!
Legislators will return to their districts for work periods over the 4th of July holiday and the month-long August recess. Don’t miss these great opportunities to meet with your federal lawmakers at a district office, or better yet, invite them to visit your medical practice! Contact govtaffairs@entnet.org to learn more about the In-district Grassroots Outreach (I-GO) program or to request assistance in scheduling your meetings. 

“Team” Approach to Advocacy – Do Your Fair-Share
Help strengthen ENT PAC and grow our advocacy “team” by making a contribution today. We can all afford to do our“fair share” in support of these efforts. Even a small contribution can go a long way! To make your contribution today, visit www.entpac.org (log-in with your AAO-HNS user ID and password) or send your personal check (payable to ENT PAC) to 1650 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314.*

Informational Updates:
U.S. House Votes on New Leadership Positions
Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to fill the positions for House Majority Leader and Majority Whip. The vacancies arose after current Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) experienced a shocking loss in the VA-7 primary election. As a result, Leader Cantor resigned his leadership position, effective July 31, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) was able to parlay his current Majority Whip position into an easy victory to become the next House Majority Leader. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-1) will replace McCarthy as Majority Whip. Check out the AAO-HNS Federal Elections Center on our Legislative & Political Affairs webpage for other primary results!

AAO-HNS Supports NYSSO-HNS Efforts to Improve Hearing Aid Access
To support the ongoing efforts of the New York State Society of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, the Academy sent a letter to NY State Assemblyman David Buchwald applauding his sponsorship of A. 1016, a bill to expand patients’ access to hearing aids. If adopted, this bill would make it financially viable for otolaryngology practices to provide hearing aid services by allowing audiologists and hearing dispensers employed by a practice to dispense hearing aids for a profit. If you currently live in New York and would like to help track this legislation or become involved in NYSSO-HNS efforts, email govtaffairs@entnet.org.

Academy Members Attend Surgical Coalition Leadership Meeting
On June 25, the American College of Surgeons hosted a Surgical Coalition leadership meeting. Physician leaders and staff representing twenty surgical specialty groups discussed pending legislation and regulatory actions that impact the surgical community and discussed strategy for advancing the collective Surgical Coalition priorities in the next Congress. The AAO-HNS was represented by AAO-HNS President Richard Waguespack, MD; AAO-HNS Socioeconomic Coordinator James Denneny, III, MD; and staff from the Health Policy and Government Affairs teams.

Coalition Supports E-Cigarettes Ban on Aircraft
The AAO-HNS joined a coalition of healthcare and consumer groups in sending a letter to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressing support for an amendment to the FY 2015 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill. The amendment forces the Department of Transportation to issues a final rule to ban e-cigarettes on aircraft. For more information on this and other coalition letters, visit the re-designed AAO- HNS Legislative & Political Affairs webpage.

From the AAO-HNS Health Policy Team:
Struggling to Demonstrate Meaningful Use for 2013?
If you are unable to successfully demonstrate Meaningful Use (MU) for 2013, you may be able to submit a hardship exemption to CMS by July 1, 2014, to avoid a payment adjustment in 2015. All applications must include documentation which demonstrates MU would be a significant hardship, and if approved, the exemption is valid for one year. Review the Exemption Requirements.

Opportunity for Members: Support FDA Oversight over All Tobacco Products
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a proposed rule that would deem several tobacco products such as gels, electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and certain dissolvables to be subject to the FDA’s tobacco product authority and regulation. Review talking points developed by the AAO-HNS for guidance on submitting your individual comments to the FDA. Every comment counts!

*Contributions to ENT PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary, and all members of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits ENT PAC from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. By law, if your contributions are made using a personal check or credit card, ENT PAC may use your contribution only to support candidates in federal elections. All corporate contributions to ENT PAC will be used for educational and administrative fees of ENT PAC, and other activities permissible under federal law. Federal law requires ENT PAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.