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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

AADA petitions Congress for $32 billion in cancer research funding
With cancer incidence rates on the rise, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) — with the American Association for Cancer Research — is calling on Congress to add $32 billion in funding for cancer research and biomedical science in fiscal year 2014 for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In a coalition letter sent to leaders in both the House and Senate, the groups maintained that although progress has been made in advancing cancer research, cancer incidence rates are steadily increasing requiring more funding for cancer research and biomedical science. Over the past decade, the NIH has lost nearly 20 percent of its ability — almost $6 billion — to fund life-saving research. Additionally, the NIH budget sustained a 5.1 percent cut through sequestration in April. Read the coalition letter. Learn more about medical research funding and stay tuned for more information on how members can advocate for this issue in upcoming fiscal year 2014 budget discussions. For more information, contact Christine O’Connor at coconnor@aad.org.

Congress tackles Medicare physician payment formula, AADA continues to fight for SGR repeal
Discussions on how to fix the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula — which is used to calculate Medicare physician payments — continue to occupy many lawmakers’ time on Capitol Hill. Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss draft legislation released for comment in May which would repeal the SGR and implement new payment reforms and models that would reward physicians for care quality and efficiency.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) has been working with the Energy and Commerce Committee staff to ensure that the implications of this proposal on dermatology are carefully considered. The AADA has been actively engaged in discussions with policymakers about the need to repeal the SGR and replace it with a new reimbursement system that recognizes the rising costs of medical practice while also promoting efforts to improve the quality of care. The AADA has already responded to proposals from Capitol Hill on three separate occasions and is also working to craft a written response to this latest proposal from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Although no timetable has been set for action on the draft legislation, lawmakers agreed that the discussion demonstrated a step in the right direction in achieving a bipartisan SGR reform bill. For more information contact Whitney Tyler at wtyler@aad.org.

Lawmakers look to tighten security of prescription drug supply chain
In an effort to prevent counterfeit and potentially dangerous drugs from entering the prescription drug supply chain, House lawmakers have passed the Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act, H.R. 1919, which would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to propose regulations that would establish a national system to track prescription drugs by the year 2027. Also known as “track and trace,” this new system would create a process for the FDA and manufacturers to share prescription drug information through an electronic tracking system. The Senate version of this legislation, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, S. 957, would require this track and trace system to be put in place by 2023. The Senate would like to combine this bill with compounding legislation, S. 959, the Pharmaceutical Compounding Quality and Accountability Act which is also under consideration. The American Academy of Dermatology Association is working with the house of medicine to ensure that physician and patient access to important medications is not restricted as an unintended consequence of this legislation. For more information, contact Christine O’Connor at coconnor@aad.org.

IRS rules to keep sales tax on tanning salons
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finalized a rule that indoor tanning salons will be required to add a 10 percent excise tax on top of the cost to tan at their facilities. Under the law, fitness centers with tanning services are not required to collect the tax, because such services do not make up the majority of their business. The tax, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, has been collected under a temporary regulation since 2010. It is expected to raise $2.7 billion in federal revenue over the next decade. For more information, contact Shawn Friesen at sfriesen@aad.org.

Federal agency focus

Support the FDA reclassification of indoor tanning devices
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is calling on its members to submit comment letters to the FDA in support of the agency’s recent proposed order to strengthen regulations on indoor tanning devices.

This proposed order faces significant opposition from the indoor tanning industry, and the FDA needs to hear from the physicians who treat the victims of these dangerous devices. The AADA has developed a template letter for members to copy and submit to the FDA before the Aug. 7, 2013, deadline. Contact Amanda Grimm at agrimm@aad.org for more information.

On May 6, the FDA issued a proposed order that recommends against the use of tanning beds by minors under 18, calls for the reclassification of indoor tanning devices from a Class I to a Class II medical device, and would require labeling on indoor tanning devices that clearly communicates the risks of skin cancer to all users. Read more about the FDA proposed order.

Private payer activity

Aetna, Highmark, Humana collaborate with dermatologists at AADA Medical Director Summit
Medical directors from Aetna, Highmark and Humana joined dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s (AADA) Medical Director Summit to discuss the challenges and opportunities of ensuring patient access to appropriate and high-quality dermatologic care. The forum enabled the Academy to effectively educate and to facilitate an open dialogue with major payers about the practice of dermatology, the AAD’s initiatives to improve patient care, as well as coverage problems that affect the payer and dermatology communities. For more information, contact Leslie Stein Lloyd at lsteinlloyd@aad.org.

Humana Medicare Advantage program targets high-cost dermatology practices
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) has learned that Humana’s Medicare Advantage program is relying on Efficiency of Care Profiles to potentially exclude dermatologists and dermatologic surgeons from Humana’s network. Dermatologists — primarily Mohs surgeons whose practices have been identified as having high economic profiles — have received letters informing them that they will be dropped from Humana’s Medicare Advantage network and will be limited to providing services as an out-of-network provider unless they appeal within 14 days. The AADA opposes economic profiling of dermatologists based solely on charges and claims data, has communicated its concerns to Humana, and hopes to work together on a solution.

Dermatologists who participate in the Humana Medicare Advantage plan and receive the notice of termination should appeal the termination and prepare a written rationale for their practice profile. The appeal hearings will be conducted via telephone with a panel of external physicians, including a physician of the same specialty. The written rationales should include information about the uniqueness of the practice’s patient population, severity of illnesses treated, and other explanatory information. For more information, please contact Faith McNicholas at fmcnicholas@aad.org.

State policy roundup

AADA instrumental in passage of indoor tanning law in seven states
Nevada and Connecticut have joined the list of states that have passed legislation prohibiting minors from indoor tanning. Most recently, Nevada became the fourth state — following California, Vermont, and Oregon — to ban minors under the age of 18 from using tanning devices. Additionally, Connecticut is the latest state to pass legislation that prohibits minors under the age of 17 from indoor tanning. New Jersey and New York have also passed legislation prohibiting minors under the age of 17 from using indoor tanning devices.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) has been working closely with local, state and national organizations in efforts to support legislation on this important issue. Currently, the AADA is advocating that the governors of Illinois and Texas sign under-18 indoor tanning ban bills. Texas Gov. Rick Perry must sign or veto Senate Bill (SB) 329 by midnight on June 16, or it becomes law without signature. For Texas-based dermatologists looking to share their support for SB 329 with Gov. Perry, contact his office by calling (512) 463-2000, or send a message via Gov. Perry’s website.

In Illinois, Gov. Patrick Quinn has less than 60 days to sign or veto House Bill 188 before it becomes law. Chicago and Springfield have both recently passed city ordinances prohibiting minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds. Read more about the AADA’s advocacy efforts regarding state indoor tanning legislation. For more information, contact Kersten Burns at kburns@aad.org.

Oregon governor signs biosimilar legislation
Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed legislation that would require any pharmacist in Oregon who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar to inform the patient prior to dispensing the biosimilar, provide notification of the substitution to the prescriber, and record the brand name or the product name and the name of the biosimilar’s manufacturer on the record of dispensing and the prescription label.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) worked with the Oregon Dermatology Society (ODS) to support this legislation, as it largely reflects the AADA’s position on the therapeutic substitution of biosimilar products. Read the AADA and ODS letters of support. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

Nevada: Advanced practice registered nurses may practice independently
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed legislation, Assembly Bill 170, which grants advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) the authority to practice independently and prescribe controlled substances without physician oversight. Read the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s letter of opposition that was sent to the Governor prior to his signing the bill into law. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

New York looks to strengthen patient protections through truth-in-advertising legislation
Truth-in-advertising legislation in New York could help set the record straight by providing patients with necessary information about who is providing their health care. Senate Bill (SB) 5493 would require that all advertisements for health care services identify the type of professional license and board certification, if applicable, held by the health care professional. In addition, SB 5493 would require all health care professionals to wear a name tag that clearly identifies the type of license held during all patient encounters.

The bill has passed out of the Senate Committee and is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. Read the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s (AADA) letter of support for SB 5493. New York dermatologists can send a letter of support through the AADA’s Dermatology Advocacy Network. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

AADA accepting applications for annual State Advocacy Grant Program
To help advance key state health policy initiatives, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is offering financial assistance to state dermatology societies through its State Advocacy Grant Program. State societies looking to fund advocacy activities to influence legislation and/or regulatory initiatives in 2014 are encouraged to apply. Visit the AADA State Advocacy Grant program Web page to learn more. For more information contact Kersten Burns at kburns@aad.org

Upcoming events

Register for the 2013 AADA Legislative Conference
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is pleased to invite the entire Academy membership to attend the 2013 AADA Legislative Conference on Sept. 8-10, in the heart of Washington, D.C. Registration is now open for this conference, which offers the unique opportunity to hear from health policy experts, discuss dermatology issues with colleagues, attend advocacy training taught by D.C. insiders, and become the trusted and influential voice your members of Congress can rely on. Conference attendees learn about critical health policy issues from national health policy experts, political insiders, and AADA advocacy leaders. Visit the conference Web page to learn more and register for this premier event. For more information, contact Blake McDonald at bmcdonald@aad.org.

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