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This week’s headlines:

Political affairs – SkinPAC

SkinPAC raises record amount, nears $1 million goal
SkinPAC has broken another new record by raising more than $970,000 for the election cycle and is in striking distance of its $1 million goal, with hopes to see AADA President Daniel Siegel, MD, fulfill his head-shave challenge. If SkinPAC raises $1 million for the election cycle, Dr. Siegel has pledged to publicly shave his head and beard at the Summer Academy Meeting and anyone who gives $5,000 will get a swipe of the razor. In an effort to raise as much money possible, SkinPAC Chair Sandra Read, MD, and the SkinPAC Board of Advisors will host a benefit dinner during the Summer Academy Meeting in Boston. For more information about the dinner or to contribute to SkinPAC, please call AADA staff member Abigail Osborne at (202) 712-2604, 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.

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.

Congressional action

House committees hold hearings on Medicare physician payment reform
Key congressional committees met recently to discuss the Medicare physician payment reform and efforts to promote quality care in the health care system. Earlier this week, the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee met to explore these issues; last week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee heard testimony on these issues as well. Each subcommittee heard physicians from various specialties testify on the challenges they currently face and their recommendations for moving forward. Lawmakers joined the physician witnesses in stressing the need for repealing Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula as the most important step toward ensuring the viability of the Medicare program. The meetings also focused on new payment and delivery models which would seek to increase quality of care while decreasing cost. The AADA commends these lawmakers for their commitment to maintaining a dialogue with the physician community as the process moves forward. The AADA will continue to advocate for SGR repeal and a sustainable payment model that treats physicians fairly and guards patients’ access to quality health care.

AADA, others take EHR stage 2 meaningful use concerns to Capitol Hill
The AADA joined more than 20 other specialty physician organizations in sending a letter to members of Congress highlighting the importance of improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care in the use of electronic health record (EHR) technology. The letter was sent by the National Coalition of Healthcare Providers (NCHP), a small business coalition that advocates on behalf of health care providers operating in the small practice environment. The coalition is actively reaching out to congressional offices in response to the recently issued proposed rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding EHR stage 2 meaningful use criteria that must be met by physicians to receive financial incentives and avoid penalties beginning in 2015. As CMS continues to promote the adoption of EHR systems, members of the coalition, along with AADA staff, are meeting with congressional offices to emphasize the business concerns of small practice physicians, namely those relating to affordability of systems and implementation timelines.

Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill passes subcommittee
Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education approved its Fiscal Year 2013 funding bill. The bill provides $150 billion in discretionary funding, which is a decrease of $6.8 billion compared to the FY 2012 level and $8.8 billion below the president’s budget request. Of importance to the specialty of dermatology, the bill allocates the National Institutes of Health $30.6 billion, which is the same level of funding as last year, but reduces funding for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Several other agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which supports skin cancer prevention programs, received funding cuts. In addition to defunding many Affordable Care Act programs, the subcommittee’s funding bill also eliminates funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which supports health care research that is linked with many federal agencies. At this time, the full House Appropriations Committee has not scheduled a vote, however, it is not expected that the full committee will restore or increase any funding levels. As the appropriations process continues, the AADA will advocate for the importance of dermatologic research with Congress.

AADA calls on members to offer grassroots support of skin cancer prevention legislation
This week, the AADA renewed its grassroots push to encourage lawmakers to raise awareness of the dangers of indoor tanning and to request support in the efforts to prevent skin cancer. The effort was in response to some lawmakers who had offered their support for legislation that would repeal the tax on indoor tanning device usage, which was included in the Affordable Care Act. In response, the AADA activated its Dermatology Advocacy Network to not only express disappointment with those lawmakers who have supported repeal of the tan tax but to encourage all members of the House to offer their support for two indoor tanning-related skin cancer prevention bills, H.R. 1676 and H.R. 5716, which would support skin cancer prevention efforts through stricter regulation of indoor tanning lamps and through new skin cancer research. The AADA highly encourages every member to take 30 seconds to write their member of Congress by visiting the Dermatology Advocacy Network website.

Rep. Bilbray releases SPOT Skin Cancer® video
In an exclusive video for the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer® initiative, California’s Rep. Brian Bilbray and his daughter, Briana, 25, share their story of being diagnosed with skin cancer last year. In the spring of 2011, Briana was diagnosed with melanoma and just two weeks later her father received a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma. Both are speaking out in an effort to raise awareness of the disease and advocate for prevention, education, and skin cancer research funding. The Academy is thankful to the Bilbrays for sharing their personal stories and bringing attention to this serious issue. You can view the video and read about the Bilbrays’ story on the SPOT Skin Cancer® website and the Academy’s YouTube channel.

AADA urges members to engage candidates
A new online resource is available to assist members who are interested in engaging candidates for public office on issues of importance to dermatology and dermatology patients. Included are sample dermatology-related questions to ask during campaign events, resources to find out more about elections in your area, and how the AADA can help you set up meetings with your members of Congress at their local offices. Visit the online toolkit or email Blake McDonald to discuss how the AADA can help you get involved.

Federal agency focus

FDA proposes unique device identification system
In response to the passage of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, the FDA has proposed a unique device identification system (UDI) for most medical devices marketed in the United States. FDA officials expect this new system to improve the quality of information in medical device adverse events reports, target specific recalls, and improve patient safety. The proposed UDI system calls for the following: a device identifier, which is a numeric or alphanumeric code specific to a device model; and a production identifier, which includes the current production information for a device.

The proposed risk-based, phase-in system will focus on devices with high risk and will exempt low-risk medical devices and over-the-counter devices. For more information on the proposed UDI system, please visit the FDA’s website.

State policy roundup

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs patient safety bill
On July 17, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1548, which the AADA supported via written comments. The new law will improve patient safety in corporate-owned medical spas, which often lack physician supervision and oversight. The AADA applauds the bill’s co-sponsors, the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery (CalDerm) and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA), for their advocacy leadership. Visit the State Advocacy Toolkit to learn more about medical spa standards of practice.

New York passes new tanning ban for minors under 17
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on July 16 that prohibits minors under the age of 17 from using indoor tanning devices and requires in-person parental consent for those between the ages of 17 and 18. The AADA supported this legislation in a letter and when the legislation was signed, commended Gov. Cuomo and New York legislators for taking steps to further protect teens from the dangers of indoor tanning. The AADA is actively supporting tanning legislation that is still pending for the 2012 legislative sessions in five states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Massachusetts passes pharmaceutical industry reforms
Massachusetts has become the last state to allow patients to cover the costs of co-payments for pharmaceutical drugs by redeeming coupons found in magazine ads and online. However, the new law prohibits the use of coupons for brand-name medications when generic versions are available. Other pharmaceutical industry reforms in the law include: allowing medical device manufacturers to pay for a practitioner’s reasonable expenses that are necessary for technical training on the use of medical devices; eliminating the condition that the expense is part of the vendor’s purchase contract for a device; and permitting pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to provide practitioners with modest meals and refreshments in connection with non-CME educational presentations about products or scientific information, if certain conditions are met. This law expires July 2015 and will be reevaluated at that time.

Upcoming events

Register now for the 2012 AADA Legislative Conference, Sept. 9 – 11, Washington, D.C.
The AADA is pleased to invite the entire Academy membership to register for the 2012 Legislative Conference, Sept. 9 – 11 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, 10 minutes from the U.S. Capitol. The Legislative Conference is a unique blend of didactic and interactive advocacy training sessions, political debate, and the direct lobbying of your members of Congress. Conference attendees learn about critical health policy issues from national health policy experts, political insiders, and AADA advocacy leaders. A keynote address will be delivered by former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, MD, PhD. However, the most powerful aspect of the Legislative Conference is your ability to build and strengthen personal relationships with your members of Congress and their staff.

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