April 4, 2014

Lead Stories   
SGR Patch Hinders Efforts for Permanent Repeal
On April 1, the President signed H.R. 4302, a bill to halt (for 12 months) a scheduled 24 percent cut in Medicare physician payments. Although the cut being averted is important, nearly the entire physician community, including the AAO-HNS, opposed the short-term patch. Using unprecedented “stealth” floor tactics on March 27, it only took a few seconds for the U.S. House of Representatives to derail a year’s worth of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to permanently resolve the SGR issue. The patch was passed (64-35) by the U.S. Senate on March 31.

This latest activity is disappointing and seriously diminishes the likelihood of permanent repeal in the near future. Although Congressional leaders claim efforts to permanently repeal the SGR formula can still be considered in the coming months, several variables—mid-term elections, a lame duck Congress, followed by potential leadership changes in the 114th Congress—raise serious doubts about the viability of advancing a permanent package before another patch would be necessary in March 2015.

AAO-HNS Video Says It All!

Check out the AAO-HNS video on last week’s disturbing SGR vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. The video was distributed widely via Twitter and Facebook.

Action Requested
Legislative Alert: Oppose Audiology Direct Access Legislation

Contact your lawmakers and urge them to refrain from cosponsoring H.R. 4035/S. 2046, legislation to provide audiologists unlimited direct access to Medicare patients without a physician referral. As written, these bills raise significant patient safety issues and would increase healthcare costs. Help ensure this ill-advised legislation does not advance in the 113th Congress!

“Team” Approach to Advocacy – Support ENT PAC Today!*
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
Hearing Aid Dispenser Bill Considered by House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee

On March 27, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health conducted a hearing on various healthcare bills, including H.R. 3508, a bill that would expand the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to contract with hearing aid dispensers. The AAO-HNS believes current Congressional action to advance H.R. 3508 is premature and represents an unnecessary legislative approach for addressing recognized process failures within the VA. The AAO-HNS has been educating Members of Congress on this issue and outlined our concerns in a statement for the record for the March 27 hearing.

Broad Coalition Urges Funding for Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program
On April 3, the AAO-HNS and 37 additional health-related organizations sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees urging funding for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment program in the FY 2015 appropriations bill. This program is intended to help mitigate pediatric physician shortages by providing a financial incentive for students to choose careers in pediatric mental health, pediatric subspecialties, and pediatric surgical specialties.

Prominent Congressional Retirements “Tee Up” Exciting Election Season

Recently, many prominent Members of Congress have announced their intention to not seek re-election in November. U.S. Representatives Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, John Dingell (D-MI), the longest serving House member, and Mike Rogers (R-MI), a member of House Energy & Commerce Committee and Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, have all announced their retirement. To date, there will be 40 open-seat elections in November and many races are being deemed more “competitive” than first thought. AAO-HNS members are encouraged to visit the AAO-HNS Federal Elections page for updates.

AAO-HNS Member Enters State House Race in Indiana
Richard A. Moss, MD, has announced his candidacy for the Indiana House of Representatives in the 63rd district. The incumbent state representative for the district, Rep. Mark Messmer, a Republican, is seeking higher office and will be vacating the seat. Dr. Moss is a resident of Jasper, IN, and has been in private practice since 1991. He will face Mike Braun in the Republican primary, with the winner likely filling the vacant seat. Although the AAO-HNS does not endorse or financially support candidates for state elections, we try to highlight when our members are seeking public office. Please contact govtaffairs@entnet.org to share the names of other otolaryngologists running in your state!

From the Health Policy Team
AAO-HNS Signs Coalition Letter Calling for Increased Regulation of Cigarettes

On March 27, the Academy signed a PARTNERS coalition letter calling on the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to increase its regulation of the design and composition of cigarettes to help reverse the marked increase in harmful effects reported over the last 50 years.

*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.