March 21, 2014

Lead Stories   
100+ Medical Societies Oppose Audiology ‘Direct Access’ Legislation
More than 100 national, state, and local medical societies have joined the AAO-HNS in sending letters to Congress opposing audiology “direct access” legislation (H.R. 4035/S. 2046). The letters, spearheaded by the Academy, were sent to the entire House and Senate and urge lawmakers to refrain from cosponsoring these ill-advised proposals. If enacted, the legislation would grant audiologists unlimited direct access to Medicare patients without a physician referral, and as written, would both increase healthcare costs and create significant patient safety issues.

U.S. House Advances SGR Bill with Partisan Offsets
On March 14, the U.S. House of Representatives voted (238-181) to pass H.R. 4015, legislation to permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula used to determine payments to physicians in the Medicare program. The legislation was amended to include a delay of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate to fund the SGR policy changes. While this amended version of H.R. 4015 is not expected to be voted on by the U.S. Senate, the “upper chamber” has tentatively scheduled consideration of its own SGR package during the week of March 24. To stay current on this issue, follow us on Twitter @AAOHNSGovtAffrs.

Action Requested
Physician Community Urges Bipartisan ‘Offsets’ for SGR Repeal Legislation

The AAO-HNS and others in the physician community sent a letter urging Congressional leaders to abandon partisan politics and work toward the development of bipartisan offsets for pending SGR repeal legislation (H.R. 4015/S. 2000). Encourage your lawmakers to maintain bipartisan momentum for SGR repeal before the next payment “patch” expires on March 31.

Spend a Day in Your State Capitol!
Are you interested in expanding your advocacy skills and learning more about the legislative process? If so, a great way to gain first-hand experience, while building relationships with various lawmakers, is to participate in the “Physician in the Capitol” program. By serving in this role, a physician volunteers to be present at his/her state Capitol during the day’s legislative session to provide basic medical services, if needed, to the members of the legislature. The position is primarily ceremonial, although you may be asked basic health-related questions or serve as the “point-person” in the event of an emergency. If you are interested in participating, please contact govtaffairs@entnet.org.

Join the Team – Renew Your ENT PAC Investor Status Today!
ENT PAC, the political action committee of the AAO-HNS, is one of the specialty’s most important advocacy tools. With many critical health-related issues under consideration in Congress, now is the time to strengthen our collective voice on Capitol Hill. To renew your investment 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
Some State Legislative Sessions Winding Down

The busy season for state legislatures is starting to come to a close with sessions in Indiana and Utah most recently adjourning. The closing of a state session is a critical time, especially given last-minute maneuvering on various legislative issues. However, our AAO-HNS state trackers have remained diligent, working with Academy staff to communicate and advance the legislative priorities of the AAO-HNS. For more information on how to help in your state, email the Government Affairs team at govtaffairs@entnet.org.  

Physician Community Urges Congress to Preserve Stark Law Exemption

On March 18, the AAO-HNS joined the Coalition on Patient-Centered Imaging in sending a letter to Congress urging preservation of the in-office ancillary services exception (IOASE) to the “Stark” law and rejection of the Administration’s budget proposal to restrict the IOASE.  Leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and Energy & Commerce Committees received the letter.

From the Health Policy Team
AAO-HNS Completes Round of Position Statement Updates

The Academy sends a sincere thanks to all committees involved in the Position Statement update process. After an extensive review process by AAO-HNS Committees, Executive Committee, and the Boards of Directors, the Academy has revised 9 and published three new position statements.

Don’t Forget to Complete the Academy’s 2014 Socioeconomic Survey
The Academy’s 2014 socioeconomic survey, an invaluable tool for members to compare their practices’ productivity, revenue, operations and other practice patterns, has been emailed to all eligible members (residents, fellows in training, retired members, and non-domestic members are excluded). Please be sure to take a few moments to complete it. If you are eligible, but did not receive the survey, please contact the Health Policy team

Are you Prepared for ICD-10?  Take Advantage of Medicare Testing Today!
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced they will conduct end-to-end testing with a limited number of healthcare providers of varying sizes and types, including physician practices. This is a great opportunity for practices to evaluate their preparedness for the transition to ICD-10 and to learn what to expect from the conversion in October. To participate, applicants must submit volunteer forms to their MACs by March 24.

*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.