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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

Cancer treatments, research resume as government reopens
Hundreds of cancer patients who had been turned away from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center for cancer treatment since the government shut down on Oct. 1, can once again access care after Congress has reached an agreement to reopen the government maintaining government funding through Jan. 15, and extending the nation’s ability to borrow through Feb. 7. The NIH Clinical Center, as well as NIH cancer research labs and cancer control programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also been reopened. In the midst of the shutdown, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) signed on to a One Voice Against Cancer coalition letter urging House and Senate leaders to resolve the FY 2014 budget that provides the investments necessary to fight cancer. In addition, the AADA and its OVAC coalition partners plan to go to Capitol Hill next week to stress the importance of funding this important research. The AADA is calling on all members to log on to the AADA Dermatology Advocacy Network and submit a letter to members of Congress to end the sequester and increase medical research funding. For more information, contact govtaffairs@aad.org.

Medicare payment reform: AADA calls on Congress to protect quality care; preserve legal standards
As part of a coalition of physician and other stakeholder groups, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is calling on Congress to ensure that new federal health care guidelines are not used to redefine standards of care and weaken current medical liability laws. With a 24 percent across-the-board Medicare rate cut looming, the House of Representatives is currently reviewing the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act (HR 2810), which would repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and replace it with a system focused on quality incentives and the development of alternative payment models. The AADA joined its fellow stakeholders in sending a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee and Health Subcommittee in support of provisions in HR 2810 that would ensure federal quality measurements are not misused in legal matters stemming from questions about medical liability. The groups also expressed a shared commitment to optimizing patient outcomes while recognizing the role that quality standards are increasingly playing in determining health care providers’ payments. Learn more about Medicare payment reform. The AADA is also calling on all members to log on to the AADA Dermatology Advocacy Network and submit a letter urging their representatives and senators to repeal the SGR. For more information, contact Shawn Friesen at sfriesen@aad.org.

Engagement opportunities

Call to action: Preserve dermatology’s voice in the house of medicine
Dermatology could lose its influence in the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD), unless more members of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) join the AMA and designate the AAD as its specialty society by Jan. 1, 2014. The AMA recently conducted its five-year review of the AAD to determine the number of representatives it should receive in the HOD, and the number of AAD members in the AMA is down by several hundred. By joining the AMA or renewing your membership, you ensure the specialty’s presence and voice in affecting the house of medicine’s decisions. Renew your AMA membership and designate the AAD as your primary organization of membership to ensure that dermatology has a voice in the house of medicine (Note: member registration will take several days after which members will then be allowed to cast a ballot for the AAD). Read more about the importance of the AMA HOD in the April 12 issue of the Member to Member e-newsletter.

Federal agency focus

2014 Medicare open enrollment period begins for patients
Senior patients may now enroll in Medicare until Dec. 7. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is reminding patients that Medicare enrollment is different from enrolling in the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces, and that patients will not need to sign up for health insurance through the marketplaces if they are enrolled in Medicare. In the next few weeks, providers who are currently enrolled in the Medicare program will have the opportunity to change their current participation status, effective on Jan. 1. However, new providers can sign the participation agreement and become a Medicare participant at the time of their enrollment into the Medicare Program. Learn more about Medicare participation options.

CMS offers meaningful use appeals process
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided an appeals process to physicians who wish to contest their meaningful use incentive payment. Physicians may apply for this appeal if they were unable to receive the meaningful use payment or if they had incentive payments revoked because of an audit or other issue. Download the appeal request form here. The form requires physicians to provide their contact information, reason for the appeal, and supporting documentation. Completed forms should be submitted to phix@cms.hhs.gov. Physicians can also call the EHR Information Center toll-free number at (888) 734-6433, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Read more about meaningful use.

State policy roundup

Michigan tackles indoor tanning legislation
The Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee held a hearing on House Bill (HB) 4405, which would prohibit minors under 18 from using indoor tanning devices. American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) member Kay E. Watnick MD, FAAD, testified before the committee about the dangers of indoor tanning. The AADA and the Michigan Dermatological Society have sent a letter in support of HB 4405. Learn more about state indoor tanning advocacy on the AADA State Advocacy Toolkit. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

New York City proposes stricter regulations on indoor tanning facilities
The New York City Bureau of Environmental Sciences and Engineering has proposed new regulations for indoor tanning facilities in New York City. The proposal includes a call for clearer warning labels on tanning devices about the public health risks of indoor tanning, and for routine inspections of tanning facilities to ensure that tanning devices are operating within the ultraviolet range limits allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The proposal will be discussed at a public hearing on Nov. 18. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

California biosimilar bill vetoed
Despite overwhelming bipartisan support from both houses of the legislature, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have provided for biosimilar substitution. Senate Bill 598 would have required a pharmacist to notify the physician of the substitution, but physician notification would only have been required for three years. Although Gov. Brown’s veto message reveals his surprise that physician notification was controversial, he notes such notification is premature because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet decided on the standards for interchangeability. For more information, contact Lisa Albany at lalbany@aad.org.

AADA promotes National Healthy Skin Month
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is assisting members and state dermatological societies in promoting November as National Healthy Skin Month as a way to establish or enhance relationships with policymakers. State societies and members are encouraged to contact their governors and mayors to seek a proclamation raising awareness about skin disease. Resources for members to discuss National Healthy Skin Month are available online in the AAD Media Relations Toolkit. The AADA will also be contacting the offices of all U.S. senators and representatives to make them aware of this opportunity. Members and state societies who are interested in pursuing a mayoral or gubernatorial proclamation can contact Victoria Houghton for assistance at vhoughton@aad.org.

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