January 24, 2014

Lead Story:
Repeal of SGR Formula Remains a “Hot Topic” on Capitol Hill
Lawmakers and staff from the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and House Energy & Commerce committees are currently working to merge their respective legislative proposals aimed at repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula used to determine Medicare payments to physicians, and replacing it with a new payment model designed to incentivize the delivery of high-quality and efficient healthcare. The timeline for “melding” the current proposals has been constrained as Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT), will soon vacate his seat to become the next Ambassador to China. The AAO-HNS Government Affairs team continues to monitor this process closely and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Follow the Government Affairs team on Twitter @AAOHNSGovtAffrs for time-sensitive updates.   

Action Requested:
State Legislatures Are in Full Swing
Although we are not even a full month into the state legislative sessions, bills relating to scope expansions, e-cigarette sales, and licensing of surgical practices have already been introduced. With a number of states commencing their sessions in February, more of this type of legislation is expected. Interested in volunteering for a vital role supporting the specialty’s state legislative efforts? Become a state tracker today!  For more information on how to become a state tracker for your state, email the Government Affairs team at govtaffairs@entnet.org

Spend Presidents’ Day with Your Member of Congress
Lawmakers are scheduled to return to their districts in mid-February for the Presidents’ Day recess. Don’t miss this great opportunity to schedule a meeting with local officials at a district office, or better yet, invite them to visit your medical practice! An in-district work period is a key chance to discuss important issues impacting your patients and the specialty with your local lawmakers. Contact govtaffairs@entnet.org to schedule a meeting.  

Help Start the Election Year Strong, Donate to ENT PAC!
The political landscape for this year’s mid-term elections is becoming more interesting each day. Ensure the specialty’s political programs are strong and well-equipped for this election year by supporting ENT PAC. Send your personal check (payable to “ENT PAC”) to 1650 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314, or make your contribution online at www.entpac.org (log-in with your AAO-HNS ID and password).*

Informational Updates:
Register Now for the 2014 AAO-HNS/F Leadership Forum
Join us for the new 2014 AAO-HNS/F Leadership Forum, February 28 – March 3, 2014, in Alexandria, VA! This meeting is one of the many free, yet rewarding, benefits available for AAO-HNS members and provides key opportunities for attendees to network and engage in peer-to-peer interaction with eminent leaders. Also included in the meeting agenda will be an advocacy session, along with a Congressional speaker. Please note: As part of the updated format for this year’s meeting, there will be no pre-scheduled meetings on Capitol Hill. However, the advocacy information available during the meeting will help ensure you are well prepared to participate in the new I-GO program and meet locally with your representatives. In addition, CME credit will be awarded to members for select sessions on March 2 and 3.

Mass Exodus on Capitol Hill
Have your U.S. Representative and Senators announced their retirement? They may soon. Over the past several weeks, several Democrat and Republican members of Congress have announced their plans not to seek re-election this year. The most recent announcements came from U.S. Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Buck McKeon (R-CA), George Miller (D-CA), James Moran (D-VA), Bill Owens (D-NY), and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Check out the AAO-HNS Federal Elections Page for more retirements and other election-related information!

State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 28. Tune in to hear the President’s remarks on key issues facing the nation. Follow the AAO-HNS Government Affairs team on Twitter for comments during and after the speech. 

Surgeon General’s Report Attributes Additional Illnesses to Tobacco
January 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Fifty years later, the Surgeon General has released a new report attributing a larger array of illnesses to tobacco use, calling for urgent action to reduce the use of tobacco in an effort to help save  lives. The Surgeon General and HHS may soon look to Congress for assistance in implementing new and existing initiatives in an effort to mitigate the incidence of tobacco-related illnesses.

From the AAO-HNS Health Policy Team:
Academy Releases Top 100 ENT Services Reported for CY 2014
In response to popular demand, the AAO-HNS has prepared resources outlining the 100 most frequently reported CPT codes by providers with sub-specialty designation “4-Otolaryngology” within the Medicare enrollment database for CY 2014. Charts are available for both the physician office and hospital outpatient setting.

AAO-HNS Requests CMS Clarification on Billing for Cerumen Removal
Within the final 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, CMS stated they would not allow CPT 69210, Removal Impacted Cerumen, to be reported with more than one unit even when furnished bilaterally. This conflicts with the 2014 code descriptor which states the code is “unilateral” and modifier -50 should be used when the service is done bilaterally. The Academy is aware of the issue and has requested further clarification from CMS so we can provide practices with additional information.

*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.