Indoor tanning report highlights false claims
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report Feb. 1 titled, “False and Misleading Health Information Provided to Teens by the Indoor Tanning Industry,” following the committee’s investigation over the summer. This investigation was initiated following a meeting with the Committee in which the AADA participated last summer to highlight the inherent health risks posed by indoor tanning. The results of the summer investigation found that nearly all indoor tanning salons contacted denied the known risks of indoor tanning, and four out of five salons falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person’s health. The AADA is using the results of the new report to urge federal policymakers to increase the regulation of indoor tanning devices to help protect the health and safety of young people. In particular, AADA members are asked to contact their members of Congress and urge their support of HR 1676, the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act. The AADA also issued a statement from AADA Vice President Suzanne Connolly, MD, FAAD, who, along with AADA Immediate Past President William D. James, MD, FAAD, and Darrell S. Rigel, MD, FAAD, participated in media interviews.
Congress reconsidering drug, biologic, and device user fee acts
The House has begun the process of reconsidering several user fee acts designed to strengthen the drug, medical device, and biologics approval processes. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), the first of the acts, was initially enacted in 1992 in response to concerns that drug approvals were taking too long. The PDUFA, and the Generic Drug User Fee Act (GDUFA), Biosimilars User Fee Act (BUFA), and Medical Device User Fee Act (MDUFA), which followed, together allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect user fees from industry in exchange for establishing reasonable goals for drug, device, and biologic review and approval. After months of negotiations between the FDA and industry representatives, Congress is now charged with reauthorizing the legislation. Prior to reauthorization, Congress will hold a number of public hearings in the coming months on all four user fee acts. Discussions include using resources from the user fees to be dedicated to adverse event reporting systems, drug shortages resources, and advanced training for FDA reviewers. The House Energy and Commerce Committee hopes to begin congressional mark-up in April with a complete legislative package to be finalized in June 2012. The Academy will continue to monitor these discussions.
|Medicare local carrier actions
Highmark proposes policy limiting coverage for Mohs surgery
The dermatology community is engaged in a unified effort to urge Highmark Medicare Services to rescind a new draft Local Coverage Determination (LCD) for Mohs micrographic surgery that would deny coverage for any Mohs surgery performed on the trunk and extremities (CPT codes 17313 and 17314) — even in cases when it would be clinically appropriate. Highmark is the Medicare Administrative Contractor for Jurisdiction 12, which includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, parts of Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Earlier this month, the AADA collaborated with the state societies and the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS), American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA), and American Society of Mohs Surgery (ASMS) to collectively appeal to Highmark to withdraw the LCD. Six dermatologists and Mohs surgeons met with Highmark representatives and urged them to rescind the LCD because the coverage limitations are not in the best interest of patients and are not based on clinically appropriate criteria. The dermatology team informed Highmark that the Academy, in concert with ACMS, ASDSA, and ASMS, is in the final stages of developing appropriate use criteria (AUC) for the use of Mohs surgery and requested that the LCD be withdrawn until the AUC are released, at which time the LCD could be redrafted based upon those criteria.
The AADA Board of Directors, as well as the boards of directors of all the collaborating societies, will review the AUC manuscript by March 18 so that an approved AUC would be made public not long after Highmark’s comment period ends on March 9. The AADA continues to work closely with ACMS, ASDSA, ASMS, and the state societies on this issue, and expects to submit written comments requesting Highmark to delay the LCD until it has considered the forthcoming AUC. Interested members are encouraged to submit comments to Highmark that include items such as literature, data, and personal examples of difficult tumors.
Tanning legislation advances through New York State Assembly and Senate Health Committee
New York could quickly become the second state in the nation to prohibit indoor tanning for minors under the age of 18. On Jan. 31, the State Assembly passed A1074 by a vote of 113 to 25. This bill had previously passed the Assembly last year and is now being sent to the Senate Health Committee. The contents of the bill will come as no surprise to the Senate Health Committee, as on Jan. 31, this Committee passed S2917, the companion bill to A1074, by a margin of 14 to three. The AADA continued to support this legislation through written comments and member outreach. S2917 now heads to the floor of the New York State Senate, where it failed to pass before the close of the 2011 session. The AADA will continue to work closely with the New York State Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery and other anti-indoor tanning advocates to rally support in the Senate for this legislation.
Utah amends under-18 tanning ban bill, holds hearing
The AADA worked closely with Sen. Patricia Jones (D – Salt Lake) in Utah on legislation related to indoor tanning, which was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 2. Although Sen. Jones had originally introduced a bill to ban minors from using indoor tanning beds, political pressures forced her to amend the bill. Through consultation with the AADA and Utah Dermatology Society, Sen. Jones settled on language to require parental accompaniment for minors aged 14 to 18 and to prohibit children under the age of 14 from using tanning devices. The substitute bill passed through committee by a vote of four to one. The AADA and UDS supported the bill and several dermatologists testified in favor of the legislation at the hearing.
Problematic South Dakota medical aesthetic services bill turned into under-18 tanning ban
Senate Bill 173 in South Dakota was first introduced last month with the intent of regulating the performance of medical aesthetic services. After concerns over the bill language were voiced by the South Dakota State Medical Association, Medical Board, and Department of Health, with input from the AADA and others, the bill sponsor returned to an issue he’s worked on for years – indoor tanning. SB 173 was substituted for a bill that would ban minors from using indoor tanning devices. The AADA submitted a written letter of support before the bill was heard by the Senate Health Committee on Feb.6, and helped prepare testimony for Gene Burrish, MD, FAAD, to offer in support of the legislation.
Washington considers truth-in-medical-advertising bill
The AADA collaborated with the Washington State Dermatology Society to support a bill requiring disclosure of all health care providers’ licensure, credentials, and certifications to all patients. This disclosure must be made in writing and printed on a name tag. The bill is chiefly supported by the Washington State Medical Association and was heard by the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Feb. 2.
Nebraska tanning industry pushes for state tax repeal
The Nebraska Indoor Tanning Association has asked the State Senate to repeal the state’s tax on indoor tanning businesses. Salon owners argued in a Feb. 1 hearing that the state’s tax coupled with the 10 percent federal tax on indoor tanning is hurting state businesses and causing many to close. The AADA and Nebraska Dermatology Society sent a letter opposing repeal of the state tax. This measure failed to move forward during the 2011 legislative session and is unlikely to pass this year.
Maryland House and Senate committees consider ban on indoor tanning
On Feb. 9, the AADA, represented by Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, FAAD, along with the American Cancer Society, MedChi – The Maryland State Medical Society, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, and the National Council for Skin Cancer Prevention, among others, testified in favor of legislation to prohibit teens from using indoor tanning beds. The Committees will vote on the House and Senate bills in the coming weeks. Maryland members are strongly encouraged to visit the Dermatology Advocacy Network website to send a letter to members of the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations Committees urging their support of SB 213 and HB 207. The AADA also distributed a press release to the Maryland state wire on Feb. 8.
Illinois House Human Services Committee evaluates tanning bed ban
On Feb. 7, Stephen Stone, MD, FAAD, testified on behalf of the AADA and the Illinois Dermatological Society in favor of HB 1666 to prohibit minors from using indoor tanning devices in the state. Dr. Stone’s testimony was well received and covered by local media. The committee has delayed a vote on the bill until an amendment can be made to explicitly allow minors to continue to access spray tanning services offered in a tanning salon. AADA members in Illinois can visit the Dermatology Advocacy Network website to send a letter of support to the House Human Services Committee.
AADA members from Texas continue advocating after 2011 Legislative Conference
As a follow-up to the 2011 AADA Legislative Conference, staff has been working with attendees to maintain contact with their members of Congress by meeting with them back in the home district offices. The goal of this effort is to actively advocate for the specialty year-round and to establish ongoing points of contact with policymakers. Over the past few months Texas-based AADA members Rebecca Euwer, MD, FAAD, Arianne Kourosh, MD, and Stephen Weis, MD, have been meeting with their representatives and senators to lobby for a repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula, support of the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act, and in opposition of the bills to repeal the tax on indoor tanning facilities.
Last week, as a direct result of the in-district meeting with AADA members, Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) signed on as co-sponsor of the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act (HR 1676). Furthermore, AADA members have met with Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) and asked him to consider introducing the Senate version of the bill.
The in-district meeting is a great way to meet your members of Congress and their staff, and is not limited to Legislative Conference participants. For more information please email AADA grassroots staff or visit the DAN website to participate in grassroots email campaigns at both the federal and state levels.
|Political affairs – SkinPAC
Dr. Siegel pledges to shave his head if SkinPAC raises a million dollars
President-elect Dan Siegel, MD, is upping the ante to help make SkinPAC a $1 million per election cycle political action committee (PAC); he recently pledged to have his head shaved in public if SkinPAC hits its fundraising goal. A formal venue for the presidential shearing will be announced in an upcoming edition of Dermatology Advocate.
SkinPAC has raised more than $490,000 in the past year and is well on its way to reaching the $1 million milestone. At this point in the 2009-2010 election cycle, SkinPAC had raised $370,000. Two of the strategies the SkinPAC Board of Advisors will be employing this year are expanding its peer-to-peer outreach and hosting more regional fundraisers. If you would like to host a regional fundraiser for SkinPAC, please contact Sam Hewitt, the AADA’s manager of political affairs, at (202) 712-2609, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate online, please 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.
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.