March 7, 2014

Lead Story
Audiology Direct Access Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate

Last week, legislation (S. 2046) was introduced in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). If enacted, S. 2046 would grant audiologists with unlimited direct access to Medicare patients without a physician referral, leading to increased healthcare costs and significant patient safety issues. A companion bill, H.R. 4035, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in late February. The AAO-HNS strongly opposes these bills and has sent letters to Congress and the bill sponsors outlining our concerns. In addition, the AAO-HNS is spearheading a physician community letter opposing H.R. 4035/S. 2046. This letter, which already has over 100 signatories, will be released next week.

Action Requested
Repeal SGR by March 31!

Last week, the AAO-HNS sent a letter to Congress supporting the bipartisan, bicameral agreement to repeal the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula. Legislators are being encouraged to cosponsor H.R. 4015/S. 2000 and act before the next payment “patch” expires on March 31.

I-GO Opportunity - Mark Your Calendars!
With the next Congressional district work period scheduled for March 15-23, AAO-HNS members are urged to participate in the Academy’s I-GO program by attending a townhall, hosting a practice visit, or meeting with a legislator in his/her district office to discuss important issues, including repeal of the SGR formula or the recently introduced direct access legislation. Simply contact govtaffairs@entnet.org for more information on how to schedule your local meeting!

Keep the Momentum Going - Donate to ENT PAC*
Thank you to all the AAO-HNS/F Leadership Forum attendees who made contributions to ENT PAC during the meeting. The broad support helped ENT PAC exceed its goal, raising over $20,000. Have you made your 2014 donation yet? Visit www.entpac.org or send your personal check (payable to “ENT PAC”) to 1650 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314. Early contributions are needed to ensure our specialty’s voice during the upcoming primary elections!   

Informational Updates
Physician Groups Join Together to Urge Congress to Repeal SGR

The AAO-HNS and nearly 30 state and local OTO societies signed onto an AMA-sponsored coalition letter supporting repeal of the SGR payment formula. The AMA, along with more than 600 physician groups, are calling on Congressional leaders to advance H.R. 4015/ S. 2000 and repeal the SGR formula before the March 31 deadline.  Follow the Government Affairs team on Twitter @AAOHNSGovtAffrs for real-time news and updates on SGR repeal and other legislative priorities.

Coalition to Retailers - Stop Selling Tobacco Products!

Recently, CVS made the unprecedented announcement it will no longer sell tobacco products at its pharmacy locations. AAO-HNS joined a coalition of healthcare and consumer groups in sending a letter to other national retailers, especially those with pharmacies, requesting they follow CVS’ lead and refrain from selling tobacco products.

State Trackers in “High Gear” as Sessions Conclude
As March begins, 11 state legislatures will begin the countdown to “sine die” or the official end of their regular legislative sessions. The “frenzy” that often accompanies the close of a state session can be a critical time, but our AAO-HNS state trackers are up for the challenge! The Academy has been working with our state trackers to make sure important bills are being followed all the way to the end. For more information on how to help in your state, email the Government Affairs team at govtaffairs@entnet.org.  

From the Health Policy Team
Compare Practices: Complete the 2014 Socioeconomic Survey

The Academy’s 2014 socioeconomic survey, an invaluable tool for members to compare their practices’ productivity, revenue, operations, and other patterns, has been emailed to all eligible members. Please take a moment to complete it. If you do not receive the survey, contact the Health Policy team

Experts Needed for RUC Surveys: Vestibular Function Testing

The AAO-HNS, in conjunction with ASHA, AAA, and AAN, must survey the Vestibular codes, CPT 92541, 92542, 92543, 92544, and 92545 for the next 2014 AMA Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) meeting. Your participation is critical to establishing relative value units (RVUs) for these codes. Have you performed any of these services in the past year? Are you available to participate in a RUC survey? If so, send your name and email address to jminton@entnet.org.

*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.