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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

AADA encourages all members to participate in the 2012 elections
As Election Day draws near, the AADA reminds all members to get out and vote. With an ever-changing health system, the results of this election will help to determine how changes in the health care arena will evolve, and how such changes will impact the specialty’s key legislative priorities. Read more about the issues currently facing dermatology—highlighted at the 2012 AADA Legislative Conference. Learn more about how the 2012 elections will affect these issues in the October issue of Dermatology World.

AADA urges Congress to share healthy skin resources with constituents
This November, as part of National Healthy Skin Month, the AADA is urging members of Congress and their staff to enhance their constituents’ knowledge about how to protect and care for their skin 365 days a year. The AADA sent a letter to members of Congress offering resources on how to read sunscreen labels, conduct a skin self-exam, and find a dermatologist. The AADA also urged members of Congress and their constituents to see a board-certified dermatologist for the proper diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions and other serious diseases. Find out more information on National Healthy Skin Month in the AAD Media Relations Toolkit.

Federal agency focus

Mixed impact to dermatology in CMS final 2013 Physician Fee Schedule
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2013 Physician Fee Schedule final rule yesterday. The AADA’s advocacy efforts, including members’ engagement in valuation surveys, mitigated the cuts to dermatology in this rule.

The AADA is pleased that CMS accepted the vast majority of the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) recommendations on almost 30 dermatology codes that were surveyed in 2012. While there were some changes to the relative value units (RVUs) for dermatology codes, the overall impact to dermatology is not expected to be significant. However, other codes that dermatologists may use, such as 88305, did not fare as well and the impact on individual practices will vary.

As anticipated, the rule includes the 26.5 percent across-the-board reduction in payments in accordance with the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) methodology. The conversion factor (CF) is $25.0008, representing a decrease of -0.1 percent to achieve budget neutrality. Without quick Congressional action, dermatologists who care for Medicare patients will be hit with the 26.5 percent cut on Jan. 1 due to the flawed Medicare physician payment formula.

Read more information about the 2013 Physician Fee Schedule. The AADA staff will continue to analyze the final rule for its impact on dermatology and will provide further updates. Additionally, the AADA will submit comments to CMS prior to the Dec. 31 deadline. Read more information on dermatopathology reimbursement in Dermatology World. Contact Richard Martin at AADA for additional questions.

FDA update on fungal meningitis outbreak
In the wake of the recent fungal meningitis outbreak that has been traced to tainted methylprednisolone acetate steroid injections, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised the New England Compounding Center (NECC)—the source of the tainted materials—to recall all products produced in NECC’s Framingham, Mass. production facility. NECC has heeded the FDA’s request and provided a complete list of all NECC products subject to the recall. Additionally, last week the FDA released information about its inspections of the NECC Framingham facility, observing problems with NECC’s ability to maintain its clean room. Read more about the FDA’s inspection findings.

The FDA has asked that health care professionals follow up with patients who were administered an injectable NECC product that was shipped on or after May 21, 2012. FDA also advises health care professionals to report any adverse events related to the use of these products to FDA's MedWatch program. Read more FDA advice for health care providers on this issue. The AADA will continue to monitor events related to the outbreak, and provide updates as they become available.

Ameridose voluntarily recalls medical products
This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Ameridose is voluntarily recalling all of its unexpired medical products—several of which are on the current FDA drug shortage list. Although Ameridose is a sister company of the New England Compounding Center (NECC)—the source of tainted steroid injections that caused a recent fungal meningitis outbreak—the FDA has indicated that there have been no reports of infections caused by Ameridose products. However, recent FDA inspections of the company’s Westborough, Mass. facility have resulted in concerns about Ameridose’s sterility assurance levels.

Although the FDA is not advising that health care professionals follow-up with patients who were administered an Ameridose product, providers are asked to return all Ameridose products to Ameridose, and report any adverse events related to the use of these products to FDA's MedWatch program. Additionally, although several of the recalled products are on the FDA drug shortage list, the FDA will be working with other manufacturers to mitigate supply shortages.

Read instructions on how to return Ameridose products, view the full list of Ameridose’s recalled medical products, and learn more about the Ameridose recall. The AADA will continue to monitor this issue closely and provide updates as they become available.

State policy roundup

New Jersey indoor tanning bill amended to increase age restriction
On Oct. 25, the New Jersey State Senate voted 26-0 to amend Senate Bill 1172 — which aims to restrict the use of indoor tanning beds by minors. The Senate voted to increase the age restriction to 17, and requires that minors, ages 17 to 18, be accompanied by a parent for their first visit to the indoor tanning facility. The Assembly passed its version of the bill, A2142, as an under-18 ban earlier in the year. The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate. If passed, it will go back to the Assembly for a vote. AADA will continue to monitor this bill as it progresses through the state legislature.

Pennsylvania legislature fails to enact indoor tanning bill
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has adjourned for the 2011-12 session, consequently eliminating any chance to enact legislation during the two-year cycle that would have banned minors under the age of 14 from using tanning devices. Additionally, the bill would have required on-site parental consent for minors ages 14 to 17, and required indoor tanning facilities to adhere to safety standards and inspections, and hold licenses regarding those standards.

SB 349 passed in the state Senate 48-1 in 2011 and was sent to the House Health Committee for consideration. The House agreed to report the bill from committee with the intention that the bill would be amended to include the provision of registration fees to compensate for the tanning facility inspections. In October, the House voted in favor of tabling SB 349. Although this issue appeared to be dead, the following day the Senate amended another bill, House Bill 2270, to include the language of SB 349. The amended bill, HB 2270, passed 47-1; however, several hours later, the House Rules Committee voted to remove the indoor tanning language from the amended bill. The indoor tanning issue was defeated a second time in less than 24 hours.

Despite the bill’s defeat, the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery remains committed to this indoor tanning legislation and plans to re-introduce this issue.

National Healthy Skin Month advocacy resources available
The 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. Members and state societies who are interested in pursuing a mayoral or gubernatorial proclamation can contact Victoria Houghton for assistance.

Leadership opportunities

Application deadline for Health Policy Fellow program Nov. 14
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. 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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