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<br>From left to right: Philip Castle,  Jeff Jacobs, ASCP President C. Bruce Alexander, ASCP Executive Vice President, E. Blair Holladay

From left to right: Philip Castle, Jeff Jacobs, ASCP President C. Bruce Alexander, ASCP Executive Vice President, E. Blair Holladay

ePolicy News May 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012



ASCP Opens Institute for Science, Technology, and Policy

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) recently launched its Institute for Science, Technology & Policy. Housed in Washington, D.C., the Institute is home to the Center for Public Policy and the Center for Science and Technology. Through these Centers, ASCP will foster work in the areas of Evidence-Based Practice, Patient-Centered Outcomes, Health Service Delivery, Precision Diagnostics, New Technology Delivery, Industry Relations, and Scientific Ambassadorship. In the policy arena, ASCP will continue to work on behalf of its membership in the areas of Advocacy, Government Relations, and Collaborations.

The Institute represents ASCP’s emphasis on patient-centered, evidenced-based science, which provides tangible data to educate lawmakers. The launch was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception attended by the Society’s Board of Directors, Commission Members, and other Industry Partners. To see a video of the new offices, click here.

Help Wanted: ASCP 2012 Vacancy Survey Launches

Every other year, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) conducts a crucial service for its members and the profession: ASCP’s Wage and Vacancy Surveys. These surveys, conducted for the past 22 years, have become the primary source of information for academic, government, and industry experts in defining the state of the nation’s laboratory professional workforce.

The 2010 Vacancy Survey indicated that the majority of laboratories across the nation report “better pay and/or benefits at other area laboratories” and “lack of necessary education and skills to perform the work” as the primary reasons for hiring and recruiting difficulties in their department. Furthermore, retiring baby boomers from all departments pose another staffing challenge for the medical laboratory field.

This year, ASCP will begin with conducting its 2012 Vacancy survey of laboratory professionals in the field. The survey will include the addition of new questions, specifically:

  • Supervisors or managers will be asked if new testing technologies in their laboratories have a substantial impact in their staffing needs. Does this leads to reduction or increase in staff?
  • Supervisors or managers will be asked what happens to an unfilled position, whether or not it is eliminated or left open until filled.

As in the past, the survey will seek to collect staff- and supervisory-level data, as well as recruitment and retention information in the laboratory workforce. The 2012 ASCP Vacancy Survey will launch on June 15, 2012 and will remain open until August 15, 2012. The Wage survey report will be included in the November 2012 issue of Labmedicine while the Vacancy survey report will appear in the February 2013 issue of LabMedicine.  

Links to previous reports:
Lab Medicine March 2011 Wage Survey—
Lab Medicine April 2011 Vacancy Survey—



Republicans, Democrats Both Offer Bills for Training and Workforce

Last month’s ePolicy examined legislation introduced by House Democrats to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill supports new investments in sector partnerships, career pathways, and other innovative strategies to connect employers and job seekers. Congressmen John Tierney (D-Mass.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), and George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 4227, or WIA of 2012.

Shortly thereafter, Republican members of introduced another WIA reauthorization proposal, combining three previous bills. The bill, introduced by Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) would consolidate 27 current programs into a single six billion Workforce Investment Fund, which would be allocated to states and localities by formula.

The WIA was enacted in 1998 to establish a framework for delivering federally funded employment and training services in the United States. The law created local workforce investment boards comprised of business representatives, labor organizations, educational institutions, economic development agencies, and community-based organizations. WIA has been up for reauthorization since 2003, maintaining its status quo. However, with the country needing to get Americans back to work and Presidential and Congressional elections close at hand, perhaps WIA Reauthorization stands a chance of passage.




New York Stakeholders Meet to Address Laboratory Training in State

ASCP recently coordinated the first meeting on “Expanding the Laboratory Workforce for the 21st Century: Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action” with the laboratory training program directors in New York state. Led by John E. Tomaszewski, MD, FASCP, Professor and Chair of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, SUNY at the University of Buffalo, the stakeholders meeting also featured ASCP D.C. Staff, Public Communications Staff, and 16 program directors from the state. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and ASCP survey of the clinical laboratory training programs provided invaluable information on the field of laboratory medicine in New York. However, hearing directly about the issues that the laboratory program directors encounter in running their programs led the initiative further and pointed the conversation in the direction most suited for their specific needs.

The challenges identified by the program directors included:

  • The difference in fee structure between hospital-based and university-based programs with the latter having less funding to run their classes;
  • Lack of qualified applicants due to ineffective recruitment and New York state licensure requirements that renders out-of-state applicants ineligible;
  • Cheaper cost of distance-learning programs in other states;
  • Limited clinical rotation sites due to consolidation of hospitals and lack of staff in training sites contribute to the decreasing enrollment of students in the programs; and
  • Lastly, not reaching the larger part of New York where awareness of the profession and recruitment of students can have far-reaching effects.

The discussion brought about the formation of five work groups which asked for the participation of the program directors. These work groups are curriculum development; networking (expansion of clinical rotation sites); access to instrumentation (simulation labs); distance learning; and recruitment. The program directors selected the work group they were most interested in and are enthusiastic about the next steps. To date, the initiative continues to garner awareness as volunteers from the healthcare workforce in New York have been contacting ASCP about how to get involved.


Louisiana Examines Clinical Laboratory Personnel Standards
Proposed Legislation Is a Possible Panacea

ASCP is lending support to proposed legislation in Louisiana that would bolster the credentials required for licensure of laboratory professionals. HR 515, the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Practice Act (legislation), could come up for a vote in the state legislature fairly soon. In addition to ASCP’s support, the measure has received support from the Louisiana Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, the Louisiana Hospital Association, the Louisiana Pathology Society, the Louisiana Medical Society, and the Clinical Laboratory Personnel Association.




Federal Circuit Oral Arguments Set for July in Gene Patent Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has invited both the plaintiffs and the defendants to file briefs by June 15 in preparation for oral arguments, set for July 20 in Washington, DC, in the patent case involving two human genes associated with hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Invitations for briefs were also extended to amici curiae as well as the U.S. Government. The Court is requesting that the briefs specifically address the question, “What is the applicability of the Supreme Court’s decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc. to Myriad’s isolated DNA and methods?” 

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside last year’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that granted Myriad Genetics Inc. patents on the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers. It also ordered further review by the lower court in light of a conflicting ruling in Mayo v. Prometheus, in which the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that companies cannot patent observations about a natural phenomenon.

ASCP is among the plaintiffs in the landmark lawsuit challenging patents held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation on the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes. Read the court document here.



The Mitchell Study Receives National Coverage

A study recently authored by noted Georgetown economist Jean M. Mitchell, PhD, documenting overutilization of pathology services and lowered cancer diagnostic rates by self-referring urologists is gathering national attention. The study was published in the journal Health Affairs on April 9.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was the first national paper to cover the study. In an April 10 article, WSJ columnist Christopher Weaver wrote that “Doctors in urology groups that profit from tests for prostate cancer order more of them than doctors who send samples to independent laboratories.” Weaver also wrote that “fewer cancers were detected—21% versus 35% for those sent to external labs, according to the study—suggests ‘financial incentives’ may play a role in decisions to order the test.”

The WSJ’s Market Watch website also published a press release by the Alliance for Integrity in Medicine, of which ASCP is a founding member. The AIM press release helped draw attention to the Mitchell Study as “independent, peer-reviewed evidence that this self-referral practice—in which urologists use their own pathology labs to test prostate biopsies for cancer—provides no benefits to patients and is only serving to drive up Medicare costs.”

New York Times also covered the Mitchell Study, with reporter Nicholas Bakalar writing that “Urologists with a financial interest in a laboratory send more prostate biopsies for analysis and have a lower rate of cancer detection than those who use independent labs, according to a new study.”

The Mitchell Study received attention from several other national, local, or healthcare media companies, including MedScape, Becker’s Hospital Review, and HealthLeaders Media.



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