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ePolicy News August 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017



ASCP Board of Directors Approves Healthcare Reform Principles

The ASCP Board of Directors recently approved a statement outlining ASCP’s positions on several issues pertaining to healthcare reform. The document, Principles for Healthcare Reform, is intended to embody in one document the key values that ASCP has outlined in its numerous policy statements. The document outlines ASCP’s support for policies that promote access to health care; preserve access to critical patient protections; ensure quality and incentivize the transition to better coordinated, value-based care; reduce the regulatory burden on providers; ensure network adequacy; preserve safety net programs serving vulnerable patients; develop and maintain a robust healthcare workforce; support rational and fair payment and coverage policies; and support a strong public health infrastructure and vibrant medical research. See the full document here.



ASCP Board Approves Network Adequacy Policy Statement

Another item recently approved by the Board of Directors is a policy statement concerning insurance network adequacy and adequate physician reimbursement. In summary, ASCP supports policies that fully inform patients of the possibility that they will be billed by an out-of-network provider; ensure insurance network adequacy by including hospital-based clinicians; create price and insurance coverage transparency; sufficiently reimburse health care providers, such as pathologists; and remove patients from payment disputes. Read the full statement here



ASCP Calls on Membership to Weigh in on PAMA, LCD efforts

Last month, ASCP released two important public policy action alerts. ASCP published an action alert to address concerns with the impending revaluation of the Medicare Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule. Under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014, Congress mandated that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) construct a new laboratory fee schedule based on volume-weighed private payer reimbursement data. ASCP shares the same concerns expressed by most laboratory organizations that the data CMS has acquired does not accurately reflect true market pricing because most of the data comes from large reference laboratories. By regulation, CMS is required to begin posting its calculations of the new fee schedule as early as September, with new payment rates going into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Individuals concerned about the possible impact of lower payment rates on laboratory operations and patient care are urged to click here to send a message of concern to their elected officials in Congress. In addition, ASCP launched an action alert to support legislation introduced by the College of American Pathologists to reform the Local Coverage Determination process. Click here to send your U.S. Senators a message urging their support of the legislation.



CMS Adopts ASCP Recommendation as Proposed QPP Measure

ASCP is delighted to report that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced it included one of ASCP’s proposed Improvement Activities measures in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) proposed rule. Assuming the proposal is included in the final rule, CMS will soon begin accepting completion of accredited continuing medical education (CME) towards the Improvement Activities domain for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

According to the proposal, beginning in January 2018 pathologists completing an accredited continuing medical education program focused on performance or quality improvement would be able to earn credit in the Improvement Activity performance category of MIPS. For many pathologists that have often found it difficult to satisfy federal quality reporting requirements, ASCP is pleased to have been able to help secure this new activity in the proposed rule.

“Accepting accredited CME in the MIPS program is a groundbreaking development, one ASCP has sought for several years to better promote quality patient care and to assist pathologists in satisfying the QPP’s requirements to earn incentive payments,” said Suzanne Ziemnik, M.Ed., ASCP Chief Officer, Learning and Educational Research.



The Future of Comparative Effectiveness Research

The Bipartisan Policy Center hosted an educational forum last month on Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), its implications for health care, and its future. Panelists discussed how bipartisanship in CER leads health care from a general population focus to a narrower, personalized focus in medicine. The Panelists, including two former Members of Congress and leaders from private and public sector health industries, expressed that CER has helped physicians and allied health professionals make more informed medical decisions. CER is expected to provide pathology and laboratory medicine precise research on effective test utilization and treatment methods to reduce unnecessary test orders and lower overall medical costs. Currently, CER faces challenges in terms of funding and gaining greater public support. Panelists argued that the future of CER is dependent on it gaining greater traction with physicians, laboratories, and patients. During the session, it was noted that Congress is expected to reauthorize in 2019 federal CER research activities managed by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the primary federal entity funding and managing CER. ASCP will continue to monitor this issue, particularly those CER efforts that directly affect pathology and laboratory medicine.



NASEM Holds Implementation Workshop on Improving Diagnosis Report

On July 17, the National Academies for Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) held an implementation workshop to discuss ways to address the findings and recommendations it outlined in its September 2015 report, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care Report, which was sponsored by ASCP.  The workshop examined progress that has been made since the report’s release and to discuss strategies for moving forward. The NASEM Committee that had been tasked with developing the 2015 report was chaired by former ASCP Executive Vice President John Ball, MD, JD, MASCP. ASCP staff was on hand at the meeting to monitor progress on NASEM’s efforts.



For more information regarding ASCP's advocacy initiatives and policy positions, please contact ASCP's Center for Public Policy at (202-347-4450).


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