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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

Congress averts Medicare payment cut; payment reform discussions continue
Congress has agreed to a three-month reprieve from the 24 percent Medicare physician payment cut that was scheduled to begin Jan. 1, and has replaced the cut with a 0.5 percent increase. Read how this will affect the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Congress must now work to reconcile the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee Medicare payment reform proposals that repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and create a new Medicare physician payment system. In addition, Congress will have to address the issue of how to pay for the reforms. To date, none of the proposals include provisions to offset the costs. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) sent a letter late last year, reiterating its appreciation for these ongoing efforts, the need to ensure positive Medicare payment updates, and concerns with certain penalties under the value-based payment program included in the proposals put forward in 2013. While the outlook for achieving full-scale reform this year is uncertain, the AADA remains encouraged by the progress made to reform the Medicare physician payment system and will continue to be actively engaged in these efforts. For more information, contact Shawn Friesen at sfriesen@aad.org.

Federal agency focus

AADA advocacy win: Laboratories exempted from EHR safe harbor law
In response to strong advocacy on the part of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) and other organizations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has excluded laboratory companies from the list of entities that may donate electronic health record (EHR) items and services under the federal safe harbor law. The safe harbor permits certain individuals and entities to donate 85 percent of the cost of EHR, as well as corresponding training programs, to a referring physician. CMS extended the sunset date on the safe harbor provision through Dec. 31, 2021. The AADA had expressed significant concerns about the safe harbor’s unintended incentive to tie dermatopathology specimen referrals to EHR donations, opening the door to risky business practices. Read more about the rule and the AADA’s advocacy efforts on this issue. For more information, contact Richard Martin at rmartin@aad.org.

CMS confirms 2014 conversion factor
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that, due to a three-month reprieve from the 24 percent physician payment cut scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1 (see related item above), the 2014 conversion factor is 35.8228. Congress did not make any changes to the practice expense and work relative values implemented in the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The deadline for physicians to change their Medicare participation status has been extended to Jan. 31, 2014. Learn more about Medicare participation options. For more information, contact James Scroggs at jscroggs@aad.org.

FDA approves combination treatment for melanoma
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a combination treatment from GlaxoSmithKline for melanoma that combines Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib). It is hoped that the drugs — which are approved for separate use but work in different ways — could provide longer-lasting, cancer-fighting effects. The combination covers the treatment of melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery or which has spread to other organs. For more information, contact Amanda Grimm at agrimm@aad.org.

AADA calls on CMS to maintain NCD for laser procedures
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed to remove National Coverage Determination (NCD) 140.5 on the topic of Laser Procedures — along with several other NCDs — because it has not been revised in the last 10 years. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) submitted a letter to CMS in support of maintaining this NCD, emphasizing that coverage of laser procedures should remain restricted to practitioners with training in the surgical management of the disease or condition being treated. For more information, contact Ana Maria Bustos at abustos@aad.org.

State policy roundup

Indiana introduces under-16 indoor tanning ban
The Indiana state legislature is the first in 2014 to introduce legislation that would impose tougher restrictions on indoor tanning for minors. Senate Bill (SB) 50, which would ban minors under the age of 16 from indoor tanning, passed unanimously out of the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee. Academy members William Hanke, MD, and David Gerstein, MD, testified at the committee hearing in support of the bill. The American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Indiana Academy of Dermatology also sent a joint support letter to the Committee. The Indiana State Medical Association, Society for Pediatric Dermatology, Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Melanoma International Foundation also supported SB 50. Currently, Indiana law only requires that minors obtain parental consent and/or are accompanied by an adult to tan at an indoor tanning facility. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

Texas Medical Board excludes Mohs from proposed restrictive office-based surgery requirement
Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) has been excluded from an amendment proposed by the Texas Medical Board to its office-based surgery regulations that would define the administration of local anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, or both in a total dosage amount that exceeds 50 percent of the recommended maximum safe dosage per outpatient visit as a Level II service. The Texas Medical Board incorporated comments submitted by the Texas Dermatological Society (TDS) and American Academy of Dermatology Association into the adopted regulations in order to exempt MMS from this requirement. TDS will continue to monitor the rules as they are implemented. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

2014 state legislative sessions back in business
Approximately 20 state legislatures have convened for the 2014 session and the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is already working with several states to introduce legislation on indoor tanning, truth in advertising, and other important issues. Learn more about when your state’s 2014 legislative session is scheduled to begin. The AADA encourages dermatologists to reach out to their newly elected and incumbent officials to educate them on the issues that affect the specialty and its patients. Please contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org to learn more about the resources available for state advocacy, or visit the AADA State affairs Web page.

Political affairs – SkinPAC

Get ready for SkinPAC’s annual Derby Celebration
Join hosts Scott Fosko, MD, Brent Moody, MD, and Pat Davey, MD, for SkinPAC’s annual Derby Celebration at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. Grab your Derby hats and join your colleagues on Friday, May 2, at 6:00 p.m. for great food, drink, horse racing, and engaging discussion on ways to keep SkinPAC’s momentum going as we jockey for position in Washington and head down the stretch in the 2014 election cycle. For more information about SkinPAC and the Derby Celebration, contact AADA’s Katie Jones at 202-609-6333, or visit www.skinpac.org.

SkinPAC’s political purpose is to solicit and receive contributions to be used to make political campaign expenditures to those candidates for federal elective office, and other federal political committees, who demonstrate understanding and interest in the views and goals of the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

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