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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

House-Senate conference committee to address SGR
This week, Congress reconvened after returning from its holiday recess, and the bicameral conference committee tasked with finding an agreement on payroll taxes and solving the sustainable growth rate (SGR) problem held its first meeting on Jan 24. During the meeting each conferee reiterated his or her commitment to working together to resolve these important issues. The AADA will continue to advocate for repair of the broken SGR and monitor the progress of the committee as it moves forward.

Federal agency focus

CMS to require transparency reporting
In December, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a proposed rule titled "Transparency Reports and Reporting of Physician Ownership or Investment Interests". The proposed rule will require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics, or medical supplies to report certain payments or transfers of value provided to physicians or teaching hospitals. The rule also requires manufacturers or group purchasing organizations to report ownership and investment interests of physicians and their immediate families.

The rule will require manufacturers to report a transfer of anything of value over $10 including cash equivalents, in-kind items or services, or stocks. The AADA and the AMA will be commenting on the proposed rule, highlighting concerns with the review process and overall physician burden.

MedPAC meets to discuss payment adequacy for outpatient E/M services and ASCs
MedPAC held meetings Jan. 12-13 to discuss payment adequacy for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and vote on draft recommendations. Each year MedPAC reviews current hospital payment rates and recommends updates for inpatient and outpatient services. For hospitals, MedPAC recommended a 1 percent payment update for inpatient and outpatient rates in 2012 and 2013, and a reform of payments for Evaluation and Management (E/M) visits to be phased in over a 3-year period. During the transition, payment rates for E/M services would be equalized across outpatient and physician office settings. A study on the impact of this payment practice and whether it limits access to ambulatory services for low-income patients would be published by 2015. In addition, the Commission recommended the secretary of Health and Human Services develop a value-based purchasing program by 2016 for ASCs and implement a .5 percent update in 2013. ASCs would also be required to submit cost data to establish payment rates. These recommendations will be included in the March report to Congress. AADA will continue to monitor MedPAC meetings and respond to recommendations as needed.

State policy roundup

Electrology scope of practice expansion attempt thwarted in Florida
On Jan. 12, a subcommittee of the Florida State House of Representatives cancelled a hearing scheduled on proposed legislation (HB 381) that would have allowed electrologists to perform laser hair removal without direct physician supervision, as required under current law. The AADA worked closely with the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery to submit written comments and contact members of the subcommittee, urging them to continue to protect patient safety and preserve quality care by opposing this bill.

Washington holds first state hearing on indoor tanning bill
Washington is among 15 states currently considering legislation to regulate the indoor tanning industry, and the first to hold a hearing in the 2012 state legislative sessions. The AADA worked with the Washington State Dermatology Association (WSDA) to provide background information to the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Consumer Protection Committee on SB 6249. Sasha Kramer, MD, FAAD, testified on behalf of the WSDA on Jan. 23 in favor of the bill. The AADA will continue to track progress on SB 6249 and other pending legislation seeking to regulate the indoor tanning industry.

North Carolina child fatality task force considers issue of teens and indoor tanning
A task force of state legislators in North Carolina responsible for discussing issues of child fatality held a hearing on the topic of teens and indoor tanning on Jan. 23. Craig Burkhart, Jr., MD, FAAD, president of the North Carolina Dermatology Association, was joined by his colleague, David W. Ollila, MD, a professor of surgery from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, to present the latest scientific evidence regarding indoor tanning and the development of skin cancer. Drs. Burkhart and Ollila stressed the need to regulate the tanning industry and protect North Carolina’s youth from the dangers of this behavior. The task force’s decision, which is still pending, to prioritize this issue will determine whether legislation to ban minors from tanning will be considered by the North Carolina General Assembly later this year.

Political affairs – SkinPAC

SkinPAC to host Reception Row after-party at 70th Annual Meeting
SkinPAC will host an after-party following the Reception Row events at the AAD’s 70th Annual Meeting. For those Annual Meeting attendees who aren’t ready to call it a night on Friday, March 16, the SkinPAC After-Party will start at 7 p.m. in San Diego Ballroom A of the San Diego Marriott and Marina. This will be just after the completion of other receptions on Reception Row. Previous SkinPAC receptions have been a big hit and this one is expected to be the same.

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.

Contributions to SkinPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. SkinPAC cannot accept contributions from corporate accounts. All AADA members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits us from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, physical address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.

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