During the 2015 Legislative Conference, more than 400 cardiovascular professionals were in Washington, DC, advocating for cardiovascular professionals and their patients on Capitol Hill and learning about legislative and regulatory changes that will impact their practices. For the first time in many years, cardiology had a fresh message to take to lawmakers now that the Sustainable Growth Rate is history. ACC members urged Congress to take the following action: • Cosponsor H.R. 3355/S. 488, a bill that would expand access to cardiac rehabilitation by allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac, intensive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs. • Leverage the expertise and experience of medical specialty societies to promote the usability of electronic health records by care team members. • Support new funding for the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the levels provided in the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act. • As the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act is implemented, work with medical specialty societies and federal agencies to develop alternative payment models that allow clinicians to provide the most effective and efficient care to their patients. Before meeting with legislators in their offices, hundreds of ACC members gathered in the Cannon House Office Building for a special Congressional Breakfast during which Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA) gave remarks. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also stopped by to greet the crowd. During the breakfast, Wendell Primus, senior advisor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) accepted ACC's 2015 President's Award for Distinguished Public Service on her behalf. Earlier this month, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) also accepted the President's Award. Pelosi and Boehner were honored with the awards for their roles in crafting and passing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. For full coverage of the conference, visit Blog.ACC.org. CMS and ONC Release Final Rules Aligning Three Stages of Meaningful Use In October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released two final rules that align all three stages of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program (also known as "Meaningful Use"). In addition to finalizing program requirements for the 2015-2017 reporting periods, the rules combine Meaningful Use into one single stage. According to the agencies, the alignment aims "to advance electronic health records with added simplicity and flexibility." While the ACC is a longtime advocate of EHRs as a way to improve the quality of patient care, the College has voiced its concerns with moving too quickly with Meaningful Use implementation. "Many of the requirements for Stage 2 proved unattainable," said ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC, in response to the rules. "Large numbers of providers either haven't met them or, after trying and failing, have given up. That is why it is vital that CMS consider participation data from the current stage to see what is working and what isn't before outlining an upcoming stage. We cannot establish a long-term health care program that does not take into account what we can feasibly attain in the short-term, transitional period." The ACC will continue to work with CMS to determine how Meaningful Use will align with the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System which will go into effect in 2017. The ACC is currently reviewing the rules and will formally weigh in during the 60-day comment period. Robert M. Califf, MD, MACC Nominated as FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, MACC, has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the next Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf currently serves as the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco, a role he accepted in early 2015. “Dr. Califf has a long history of collaborating with the FDA both internally and as an external advisor,” said the ACC in a letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. “This experience will enable him to quickly move forward with implementing key initiatives and advancing the agency’s mission.” ACC’s letter of support also notes how Califf, in his current role, provides expert guidance on a diverse array of projects ranging from clinical trial improvements to the use of observational data such as those from registries to improve access to new therapies. Before joining the Agency earlier this year, Califf frequently lent his expertise to the FDA through service on the Advisory Committee on Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs and its Science Board Working Group. He has also served in several leadership positions within the Institute of Medicine (IOM), including the IOM Clinical Research Roundtable, the IOM Committee on Medication Errors and the IOM Board on Health Sciences Policy. He is also one of the foremost experts in clinical trials, with more than 1,200 peer-reviewed publications. ICD-10 Transition is Official After many years of planning and several implementation delays, the transition to ICD-10 became official on Oct. 1. Now that the transition has been made, remember to use ICD-10 codes for all claims with dates of service after Oct. 1, 2015, and ICD-9 codes for all dates of service before then. If you have trouble using ICD-10, visit CMS.gov/ICD10 or contact your Medicare and Medicaid liaisons for any related inquiries. Visit ACC.org/ICD10 for cardiologyspecific resources.
Published by American College of Cardiology. View All Articles.