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This week’s headlines:
Congressional action

Cancer advocates call on Congress to complete the FY 2012 funding bill
One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), of which AADA is a member, collaborated on a letter sent to House and Senate appropriators urging them to complete the FY 2012 appropriations bill. The NIH, CDC, and other healthcare agencies depend on this funding to continue their research programs, which are crucial to the prevention and treatment of cancer. AADA staff will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and work with other cancer organizations to advocate for cancer research funding.

Congress works to avoid looming SGR cut
With the 27 percent cut in Medicare physician payment scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2012, Congress is racing to finish must-pass legislation extending many expiring programs before recessing until the new year. On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the House passed an extenders package that included a two-year, one percent increase for the SGR. Given that this legislation also included a number of controversial legislative add-ons and pay-fors, the Senate is opposed to this legislation and is currently negotiating its own extenders package. In response to this legislative uncertainty, the AADA has activated a grassroots alert urging Congress to support the two-year, one percent increase as a short-term SGR fix. The AADA will update members on the outcome of the SGR deliberations via a member alert next week. However, a long-term solution is still needed, and the AADA remains committed to a permanent repeal of the broken SGR formula.

AADA presses for multi-organization letter opposing repeal of in-office ancillary services exception
In recent weeks, a coalition of organizations, including radiology and pathology organizations, known as the Alliance for Integrity in Medicare (AIM) has been working to convince Congress that the elimination of critical exceptions to the Stark self-referral law would provide significant savings to the Medicare program. In response, the AADA has worked to align with several other organizations to oppose this effort. The AADA is joining together with this group in sending a letter to Congress urging them to reject efforts to repeal the exceptions. Once sent, the letter will be available on AAD.org. In addition, the AADA has continued its efforts to educate members of Congress and their staff about the importance of these exceptions to dermatology practice. Last month, the AADA sent its own letter to the congressional Supercommittee articulating the importance of maintaining the exceptions and explaining why dermatopathology services are integral to patient care. Removal of these exceptions could mean a prohibition on the provision of anatomic pathology services (processing and/or reading one’s own slides).

Federal agency focus

Drug shortage concerns remain priority
The AADA has continued to receive communications from members about ongoing problems accessing specific drugs, such as cantharadin, lidocaine, and especially tetracycline, due to reported shortages of these drugs in areas across the U.S. In response, the AADA has been actively engaged with the medical community and the FDA in working to identify reasons for and approaches to the problem. As noted in the Nov. 4 Dermatology Advocate, the FDA issued a report highlighting a number of agency processes that can be improved to help alleviate the problem.

The AADA is in the process of submitting comments to that report, due Dec. 23, detailing dermatology-specific drug shortages. The AADA conducted an informal survey to better understand the number of dermatology drugs currently in shortage. The survey showed that approximately 70 percent of the 61 respondents are experiencing a shortage of tetracycline. Additional shortages include lidocaine, bleomycin, and TriLuma cream. To help the AADA gather information on all current drug shortages in the dermatology community; please take a moment to fill out the brief survey regarding dermatologists’ experiences with prescription drug shortages.

Political affairs – SkinPAC

SkinPAC member donations break record
As of Dec. 12, SkinPAC, the political arm of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), has raised more than $455,000 from more than 1,260 AADA members to contribute toward the election or reelection of candidates for federal office, making it the most successful year SkinPAC has ever had in fundraising. SkinPAC has contributed a total of $238,500 in the 2011-2012 election cycle: $139,500 went to candidate committees; $39,000 went to leadership PACs; and $60,000 went to national campaign committees.

As we move into the latter half of the 2011-2012 election cycle and continue to deal with the opportunities and challenges involved in health system reform implementation, Medicare physician payment reform, and passage of indoor tanning legislation, SkinPAC is committed to continuing to develop and strengthen relationships with members of Congress in order to advocate for the AADA and our patients. If you have not done so this year, please consider making a contribution to SkinPAC, by visiting www.SkinPAC.org or by contacting Sam Hewitt, 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.

Editor's note
Dermatology Advocate will be on hiatus for the holidays, and the next issue will be sent on Jan. 13. Season’s greetings and best wishes for a happy New Year.




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