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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

AADA urges Congress to protect Medicare physician payment
On Sept. 12, the AADA joined the broader physician community in sending a letter urging Congress to stop the looming cuts to Medicare physician payments resulting from the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and the upcoming sequestration cut to Medicare payments. Once again, physicians face a 27 percent payment cut beginning Jan. 1, 2013, unless Congress provides a legislative delay. Additionally, the Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for another 2 percent Medicare payment cut for physicians through the sequestration process. Together, these cuts would decrease Medicare physician payments by nearly 30 percent, severely jeopardizing patients’ access to quality dermatologic care. For more on the sequestration cuts, see related item below.

Federal budget office releases report detailing sequestration cuts
Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report detailing the sequestration cuts triggered by Congress’s failure to enact a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The report provides an explanation of which programs would be cut, the extent of the cuts, and which programs would be exempt from cuts.

According to the report, roughly $109 billion in cuts would be implemented every year from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2021. Defense spending will receive reductions of 9.4 percent; non-defense spending will be cut by 8.2 percent with most entitlement programs enduring a 7.6 percent reduction. Specifically, Medicare's budget will be cut by 2 percent, which will come out of provider payments rather than enrollee benefits. Additionally, medical research funding will be negatively impacted by the looming sequestration cuts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facing approximately $464 million in cuts to discretionary programs, and the National Institutes of Health facing about $2.5 billion in cuts. The AADA is urging Congress to enact legislation to stop the physician payment cuts and restore medical research funding.

AADA ensures dermatology’s message is heard on Capitol Hill
Last week, more than 100 dermatologists and patient advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., to present a united voice to Congress on dermatology’s most pressing issues. During the 2012 AADA Legislative Conference, participants met directly with 173 members of Congress and their staff, to discuss efforts to avert Medicare payment cuts, limit the reach of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), raise awareness of the dangers of indoor tanning, and preserve access to the full range of care that dermatologists are uniquely qualified to provide.

If you were unable to join your colleagues in Washington, D.C., there’s still more work that can be done within your community. The AADA has produced a new online resource to assist members who are interested in engaging with their elected officials and candidates for public office on issues of importance to dermatology and dermatology patients. Included in this resource are sample dermatology-related questions to ask during campaign events, information about elections in your area, and guidance on how to set up meetings with your members of Congress at their local offices. Visit the Academy website, or email Blake McDonald to discuss how the AADA can help you get involved.

Federal agency focus

iPLEDGE sponsors release “lessons learned” document
Continuing their effort to protect patients from the harmful side effects of isotretinoin, iPLEDGE sponsors have released a document that provides "lessons learned" and recommendations to health care providers and pharmacists on how to prevent exposed isotretinoin pregnancies. The document reinforces the importance of reminding patients to never use leftover medication, and to dispose of the medication after the course of treatment is complete. It also emphasizes the significance of the confirmatory pregnancy test timing – in detecting pregnancies prior to the start of treatment – to reduce the number of exposed pregnancies. The new iPLEDGE document with tips for safe isotretinoin usage can be found on the iPLEDGE website and on the Academy website.

State policy roundup

Last call! 2013 AADA State Advocacy Grant applications due Sept. 30
The AADA is now accepting applications for the 2013 State Advocacy Grant Program. The program provides financial assistance to state dermatology societies for the advancement of their health policy initiatives. State societies applying for the grant must submit an application and all required supporting materials by Sept. 30. Learn more about the State Advocacy Grant Program and download your application today by visiting the AADA State affairs Web page.

Leadership opportunities

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation releases call for fellow applications
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is seeking applications for the 2013-2014 Health Policy Fellows program. The program offers a minimum of a one-year stay in Washington, D.C. for mid-career health professionals with an interest in health and health care policy. Fellows will actively participate in health-policy processes at the federal level and use that leadership experience to improve health, health care and health policy. The deadline for submitting references is Nov. 7. Full applications are due Nov. 14, 2012. Read more about the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellows, or visit the 2013-2014 Call for Applications to find out more on how to apply.

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