Medical Agendas in D.C. for 2016
Written by Editor   
Monday, January 25, 2016 12:00 AM

With the presidential election season upon us, there is not much time to get things done politically, but the senior policy adviser with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) said the group does have some goals for the year, mainly in the regulatory area.

One practical issue MGMA would like to see addressed is an electronic claim attachment standard. The insurer says, “We need more information to process the claim” and even if the doctor can submit  the claim electronically, the law won’t allow you to send the attachment electronically. Here is a huge opportunity to simplify a major hassle factor for practices.

Chronic care management is another area of interest particularly in primary care. Changes including waiving cost-sharing requirements for Medicare’s chronic care management codes, providing additional and dedicated payments to support the ability of physicians to manage patients with multiple chronic diseases and, reducing regulatory and administrative barriers to provision of chronic care management services will be sought.  The American Academy of Family Physicians also plans to focus on the issue“we certainly feel family medicine is at the center of chronic care and is a hallmark of what we do.” 

Some groups, such as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons are eager to contribute to ongoing discussions regarding a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act and the establishment of a framework for Medicare reform.  The AANS is also supporting the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, which would provide Medicare funding for an additional 15,000 residency training slots over 5 years, as well as the Concussion Awareness and Education Act, which calls for surveillance of sports-related concussions and increased research into concussion management guidelines.

Meaningful Use regulations for electronic health records are on the minds of several groups this year. We expect to see proposed regulations for Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS); we are expecting that regulation will redesign the Meaningful Use program and certainly redesign the intersection between Meaningful Use and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and the Value-Based Modifier.

The MGMA is urging doing away with the “all-or-nothing” provision in Meaningful Use.  "If you are 99% successful [in meeting the rule's requirements], you are 100% unsuccessful. That’s ridiculous; it’s a punitive program rather than encouraging physicians to accept the technology and to invest,” the MGMA reported.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is supporting legislation on postpartum depression screening, and the “H.R. 3235, the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, would provide funding for grants to states to create or improve programs focused on routine postpartum screening,” they report.  They are also advocating for inclusion of pregnant women in medical research. "Historically, pregnant and lactating women have been left out of medical research ... Including pregnant women in research will leave physicians better able to make treatment options with their patients, and will help protect women's peace of mind." 

On the academic front, the Association of American Medical Colleges would like to see Congress support additional funding or additional support through Medicare graduate medical education to increase support for physician training at teaching hospitals as part of a multi-faceted strategy to reduce physician shortages in rural and urban underserved communities alike.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is looking forward to working on a number of initiatives this year, looking to make progress on child health issues that don’t implicate macro election-year issues but smaller, more child health-focused pieces of legislation. “Each individual bill is an important one for kids, popular on both sides of the aisle,” they report.  One bill at the top of AAP's list is the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, which would require child-safe packaging for nicotine that goes in electronic cigarettes. "We have had one child die [from ingesting] liquid nicotine, and a 200% increase in phone calls to poison control centers ... It's incredibly toxic, and there is no requirement for child-proof packaging. I think there's a lot of support for that one."

Another bill on AAP's agenda is the Ensuring Children's Access to Specialty Care Act, which would allow pediatric subspecialists to be part of the National Health Service Corps.  Access to subspecialist pediatricians in some places is very, very limited, so we have been working for a long time to increase access.