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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

Cancer research funding increases; Medicare sequester remains
Congress has passed a $1.1 trillion spending budget that increases funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to $29.9 billion — a $1 billion increase from fiscal year 2013. Additionally, the bill funds the Department of Defense (DOD) Peer Reviewed Cancer Research program at $25 million — a $10 million increase from fiscal year 2013. Melanoma and other skin cancers are among the 12 cancers for which the DOD directs this research funding. However, while Congress did pass a measure last month increasing Medicare physician payments by 0.5 percent through March 2014, the 2 percent Medicare sequester for physician payments that went into effect in March 2013 remains in place through 2023. Read highlights from the appropriations package with details on how the 2014 budget deal will affect dermatology. For more information, contact Christine O’Connor at coconnor@aad.org.

Senate field hearing explores UHC network narrowing
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) held a Senate Special Committee on Aging field hearing in Hartford, Conn. questioning United Healthcare's (UHC) recent decision to drop thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage plan network. American Academy of Dermatology member, Raymond Welch, MD, who practices in Providence, testified about his experience with UHC as well as the inaccuracies of UHC’s network provider listing. Learn more about how to appeal a network termination. For more information on network narrowing, contact Leslie Stein Lloyd at lsteinlloyd@aad.org.

Federal agency focus

CMS shelves site-neutral payment policy
In its comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) expressed its appreciation that CMS heard the AADA’s concerns and did not finalize a proposal which would have significantly reduced physician payments for photochemotherapy codes. Specifically, CMS contemplated equalizing payments between physician offices, hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgery centers for more than 200 codes. However, CMS is expected to address this issue in future rulemaking. The AADA also strongly opposed raising requirements in the Physician Quality Reporting System as it could cause undue logistical burdens for eligible physicians. Read more about the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Read more from the AADA comment letter to CMS. For more information, contact Richard Martin at rmartin@add.org.

CMS to consider releasing physician payment data
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will soon start considering Freedom of Information Act requests for physician payment information. CMS has indicated that it will weigh privacy interests of individual physicians against the public interest when deciding whether to disclose the amounts that were paid to individual physicians under Medicare. In August, CMS requested feedback on this policy from stakeholders. In its comment letter, the American Academy of Dermatology Association strongly opposed this proposal, and will continue to advocate for continued recognition of physicians’ right to privacy, and urge for inclusion of protections against inaccuracies, misinterpretations, and other potential harms. For more information, contact Richard Martin at rmartin@aad.org.

FDA issues warning against Ranbaxy India plant
After a recent inspection of the Ranbaxy Laboratories generic manufacturing plant in India, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about the plant’s possible violations of FDA manufacturing standards. The plant — which will remain open until further notice — is where Ranbaxy’s isotretinoin product, Sotret, is manufactured. The American Academy of Dermatology Association is looking into how a potential closure of Ranbaxy’s India plant would affect the supply of isotretinoin in the U.S., and will provide updates as more information is available. For questions, or to report a drug shortage, contact Amanda Grimm at agrimm@aad.org.

Private payer advocacy

Aetna agrees to $120 million settlement to out-of-network providers, subscribers
Aetna has agreed to pay up to $120 million to subscribers as well as health care providers who provided out-of-network (“OON”) services to Aetna subscribers between June 3, 2003 (March 1, 2001 for subscribers) and Aug. 30, 2013, and received less than the billed charge. Claims must be postmarked no later than March 28, 2014, to be considered. Learn more about how to participate in this settlement. For more information, contact Leslie Stein Lloyd at lsteinlloyd@aad.org.

State policy roundup

States hit the ground running on indoor tanning legislation in 2014
The 2014 legislative sessions have only just begun and already several states have made progress on legislation that would restrict indoor tanning for minors. Legislation that would restrict minors under 18 from indoor tanning has been heard in committee in Washington, Hawaii, and Virginia. Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and Maryland have also introduced legislation that would restrict minors under the age of 18 and Indiana would prohibit minors under 16 years old from indoor tanning. Indiana Senate Bill 50 has passed out of the Senate. Legislation that would ban minors under 15 has been heard in committee in Virginia and Alabama; however, both Virginia bills died in committee. Read more about these bills and the AADA’s advocacy efforts on state indoor tanning legislation in 2014. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

Georgia introduces legislation to establish standards for physician profiling programs
The Georgia Legislature introduced SB 173, the Accuracy and Transparency in Physician/Provider Profiling Act, which would establish standards concerning physician/provider profiling programs, including criteria to evaluate a physician's cost and quality of care. Physician profiling programs would disclose to all profiled physicians the methodologies, criteria, data, and analysis used to evaluate physicians' quality performance and cost efficiency — including, the statistical difference between each rating and the statistical confidence level of each rating — before implementing any physician profiling program. The American Academy of Dermatology Association, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association and the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery support the legislation. Read more about the bill. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

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 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, D.C., 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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