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Rep. John Larson (D-CT), second from left, with COA members (from left) Lawrence S. Halperin, MD, John T. Gill, MD; Thomas C. Barber, MD; Dirk H. Alander, MD; George F. Muschler, MD; Marlene DeMaio, MD; and Robert R. Slater Jr, MD.

AAOS Now

Published 11/1/2016
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Elizabeth Fassbender

House Passes Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act

AAOS applauds legislators, urges further action
On Sept. 12, 2016, the House of Representatives passed HR 921, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, by voice vote. This bipartisan measure would provide licensure clarity for sports medicine professionals. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the legislation will clarify medical liability rules to ensure that team providers are properly covered by their professional liability insurance while traveling with athletic teams in another state.

"Sports medicine professionals are integral to the operation of athletic teams around the country," stated Thomas C. Barber, MD, chair of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Council on Advocacy (COA). "HR 921 ensures these professionals can treat injured athletes, whose medical histories they know well, across state lines without the fear of incurring great professional and financial loss. With timely access to the highest quality of care, athletes are then better able to return to their active lifestyle as soon as possible. We commend the House for approving this bill and we urge the Senate to do the same."

"This commonsense bill will bring certainty to the health professionals tasked with taking care of our athletes," said Rep. Guthrie. "It's a win for everyone involved and ensures that those who know our athletes best are responsible for their care, even when playing and traveling out of state."

While in Washington, D.C., for the COA fall meeting, AAOS COA members thanked Reps. Guthrie and Richmond for their leadership on this important issue. In a press release, the AAOS also expressed the hope of "working with Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to pass similar legislation in the Senate."

Physician-owned hospitals
In addition to discussing HR 921, COA members met with congressional representatives about the issue of physician-owned hospitals (POHs). In these meetings, the COA argued that a provision of the Affordable Care Act prohibiting the creation or expansion of POHs is bad for the entire healthcare system and penalizes patients who deserve the right to receive care at the hospital of their choice.

COA members emphasized that POHs inject much-needed competition into the hospital marketplace, prompting traditional hospitals to improve and innovate. Further, POHs consistently rank higher under current quality measures than other hospitals. For these reasons, COA members urged members of Congress to support HR 2513. The legislation, which was introduced by Reps. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), would suspend the ban on expansion for approximately 3 years. HR 2513 has more than 30 cosponsors, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

Surgical data collection
Legislators were also urged to sign a letter from Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.) to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. The letter expresses the signers' opposition to a recent policy proposal that would require physicians to account for each 10-minute increment of postsurgical care they provide in the hospital, at the office, or via email/telephone.

As a result of these meetings, more than 100 members of Congress joined in the effort to ask CMS to not implement this proposal, which was first announced on July 7, 2016, in the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule. The AAOS communicated similar concerns to CMS in its comment letter on the PFS proposed rule.

"The AAOS is very concerned with the methodology proposed by CMS to review and measure resources used in the provision of global services under the Medicare PFS," wrote AAOS President Gerald R. Williams Jr, MD. "In particular, the AAOS is concerned that the steps proposed by CMS, particularly the requirement that all providers use G-codes for all postoperative patient encounters, are unnecessarily burdensome for physician and physician practices, will result in inaccurate data, and represent an overreach by the agency according to the language in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act [MACRA] of 2015 calling for CMS to collect data on resources used in the postoperative global period."

Read more about these and other issues online at www.aaos.org/dc and follow the AAOS office of government relations on twitter @AAOSAdvocacy

Elizabeth Fassbender is the communications manager in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at fassbender@aaos.org