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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

Cancer coalition fights for research funding on Capitol Hill
Representatives from One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) member organizations, including the AADA, other physician groups, and cancer advocacy groups, gathered on Capitol Hill on Oct. 12 to ask policymakers to address concerns over recent funding cuts to the CDC, NIH, and other health care related agencies. During meetings with members of Congress, the coalition stressed the negative effects that cuts would have on current and future life-saving research. OVAC reiterated its Lobby Day message with a letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee requesting that funding be restored to those programs.

Congressional members ally with physician specialties against MedPAC recommendation
Reps. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) and Gene Green (D-Texas) are encouraging other House members to sign onto a letter to House leadership opposing MedPAC’s recent recommendation that would impose a 5.9 percent payment cut for specialty physicians for three years followed by a seven year payment freeze in any upcoming legislation. In its letter to MedPAC, the AADA urges a balanced approach to fixing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula.

Dermatologists must engage Congress and the Supercommittee to fix SGR
The Dermatology Advocacy Network (DAN) continues its call to action asking that all dermatologists send a letter to their members of Congress urging the Supercommittee to permanently fix the flawed SGR formula. The campaign launched during the 2011 AADA Legislative Conference when 116 dermatologists brought this message to 160 congressional offices.

State policy roundup

California enacts first statewide ban on minors’ tanning
On Oct. 9, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 746 into law, thereby prohibiting the use of indoor tanning devices by all minors in the state. This marks enactment of the first statewide ban on indoor tanning for those under age 18 in the country. The new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. The AADA commends the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery and AIM at Melanoma, a patient advocacy organization, for their tireless efforts to advance this legislation. The AADA was proud to support this effort throughout the legislative process, and thanks the California members who logged into the DAN website and responded to our grassroots call to action to urge Gov. Brown to sign this bill. The AADA hopes other states will follow California’s lead in passing the same legislation to protect our country’s youth from the dangers associated with indoor tanning.

Federal agency focus

Academy seeks member accounts of drug shortages
Physicians from around the country have been experiencing a significant shortage in therapeutic treatments. The Academy hopes to better understand current dermatology-specific drug shortages. Please take a moment to fill out a brief survey on your experience. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Amanda Grimm in the Washington, DC, office at agrimm@aad.org or (202) 712-2605.

CMS issues final rule on ACO Shared Saving Program, launches advance payment model
On Oct. 20 CMS issued the long awaited final rule for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) under the Medicare Shared Savings Program and launched a new initiative to provide additional support to physician-owned and rural providers interested in participating in the program. The final rule includes a number of improvements from the proposed rule released this spring, which was heavily criticized as being too restrictive and burdensome to encourage provider participation. The two initiatives — the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Advance Payment model — will increase incentives and streamline the program for participating health care providers. They will also provide additional support with start-up resources for physician-owned and rural providers to build the necessary infrastructure, such as new staff or information technology systems. Other changes in the final rule include making the one-sided model truly one-sided, expanding participation to Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers, and providing a flexible starting date in 2012. Academy staff will review both initiatives and provide further analysis. In the interim, the Shared Savings Program final rule is posted at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx. The Advanced Payment solicitation is posted at http://innovations.cms.gov/areas-of-focus/seamless-and-coordinated-care-models/advance-payment/.

OIG taking another look at 'incident-to' services in fiscal year 2012
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released its Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2012, which outlines a number of projects that will be initiated or continued in the coming year. Of particular interest to dermatology is the new review of physician billing for “incident-to” services. A 2009 OIG review of “incident-to” services highlighted the need for dermatologist to look closely at their delegating and billing practices to ensure that any non-physicians performing procedures are qualified to do so. In the new fiscal year, the OIG will continue its focus on E\M coding trends with new emphasis on the use of modifiers during the global surgery period in an effort to identify potentially inappropriate payments. The OIG will also continue monitoring the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program and CMS’s oversight of the program. Other compliance targets for the year include variation in coverage of services and Medicare expenditures due to local coverage determinations and the Medicare appeal process including administrative law judge decisions. In addition, the Work Plan will focus on the impact of physicians opting out of the Medicare program.

Political affairs – SkinPAC

SkinPAC to hold fundraiser in New Orleans
SkinPAC will hold its fourth regional fundraiser in New Orleans on Nov. 12 at 12 p.m. The fundraiser, a luncheon at the Tulane Medical School, will immediately follow the Louisiana Dermatological Society’s meeting and end before the official opening of the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates meeting. If you’d like more information, please contact Sam Hewitt, the AADA’s manager of political affairs, at (202) 712-2609, or by email at shewitt@aad.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.

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