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ENT Advocate 2-9-2015

February 9, 2015

Lead Story:
SGR – Simple Actions, Big Impact

On February 4, AAO-HNS members and other physician leaders from across the nation converged on Capitol Hill via a “virtual advocacy day.” These advocates tweeted, emailed, and/or called their Members of Congress urging repeal of the flawed SGR physician payment formula before March 31. Over 300 messages were sent by AAO-HNS members alone! Thank you to those that participated, and stay tuned for more “calls to action” in the future.

Missed the event? You can still make your voice heard. Check out the AAO-HNS SGR webpage for ways to get involved.

Action Requested:
Show Some Love for ENT PAC
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and what better way to show your patients and your specialty you care than by donating to ENT PAC? By donating to the PAC, you help protect the specialty now, and for the future. Send your personal check (payable to “ENT PAC”) to 1650 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314, or make a contribution online at www.entpac.org (log-in with your AAO-HNS ID and password).*

Make a Date with Your Legislators
Lawmakers are scheduled to return to their districts in mid-February and the second week of March. Don’t miss these great opportunities to schedule a local meeting with your lawmakers at a district office, or better yet, invite them to visit your medical practice! Visit the Legislative Grassroots webpage or contact govtaffairs@entnet.org to schedule a meeting.    

Informational Updates:
White House Releases Proposed 2016 Budget
This week, the President released his FY 2016 budget proposal, which includes payment cuts to certain healthcare providers and spending increases for healthcare research, among myriad other provisions. The proposed budget would also nearly double the existing tax on tobacco products to help fund certain healthcare programs, including SCHIP. While the GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to fully embrace the proposed budget, the proposal offers a roadmap of the Administration’s fiscal priorities.

House Votes to Repeal the ACA
The U.S. House of Representatives has again voted to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the first such vote in the new, and GOP-controlled, 114th Congress. While the U.S. Senate will likely vote on this measure, it is not expected to advance due to procedural hurdles. President Obama has also indicated he will veto any legislation that repeals the law. Both chambers are forming taskforces to identify ways to improve/replace the healthcare law. For real time updates on Congressional activity, follow AAO-HNS Government Affairs on Twitter at @AAOHNSGovtAffrs.

Bipartisan Effort for 21st Century Cures Initiative
The House Energy & Commerce Committee released a bipartisan discussion draft of its 21st Century Cures Initiative. Over the last year, the Committee sought input from various stakeholders, including the AAO-HNS, on ways Congress can foster medical innovation and help accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures for patients.

From the Health Policy Team:
CMS Announces Intent to Engage in Rulemaking for EHR Incentive Program Changes for 2015
In response to input from several stakeholders, including the Academy, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering several changes to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, including: shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days, realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year, and modifying other aspects of the programs.

OIG Ramps-up Enforcement of Exclusion Lists
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is increasingly penalizing healthcare companies for hiring any individuals on Medicaid or Medicare exclusion lists. Healthcare providers can be excluded by OIG for several reasons, including defaulting on student loans or providing unnecessary or substandard services.

*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.