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Advocacy Now

Advocacy Now is an email newsletter produced bi-weekly by the Office of Government Relations to keep AAOS members on top of important health care policy issues as well as supporting advocacy efforts. Questions or concerns about related content can be emailed to staff at dc@aaos.org.

Below are updates from the most recent newsletter, as well as an archive of old issues.

Advocacy Now, April 15, 2021

AAOS Advocacy in Action

  • Asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for greater transparency in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and reiterated concern with the lack of timeliness on the release and consistency with quality measure benchmarks .
  • Reemphasized growing concern within the healthcare community regarding the expanded use of prior authorization by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (read more below).

The Bone Beat New Episode

Conversations on health policy issues affecting musculoskeletal care...

Policy in Practice: Threats to Orthopaedics in 2021
Prior authorization paperwork, insurance battles over setting of care, and EHR documentation challenges are just a few of the many ways that government policies can stand in the way of patient care. In this episode with new AAOS Advocacy Council Chair Douglas W. Lundy, MD, MBA, FAAOS, we discuss the threats we’re fighting in 2021 and how these rules and regulations impact orthopaedic surgery from Capitol Hill to the operating room.

AAOS News

Save the Date for Orthopaedic Advocacy Week
The Office of Government Relations, in conjunction with AAOS leadership, is hosting an Orthopaedic Advocacy Week from May 24-28, 2021, to amplify year-long advocacy efforts in a new and innovative way. Although we cannot yet meet in-person with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., it is absolutely critical that we continue to engage with them on relevant issues involving the orthopaedic care we provide. During this event, we look forward to educating members of Congress on these issues, increasing our effectiveness as advocates, and delivering critical messages on behalf of our patients and the musculoskeletal community across the country.

The Office of Government Relations will be sending more information, details, and resources for the event as they become available. In the meantime, please consider signing up today to participate and serve as an advocate. Sign up for the event...

Coalition Reiterates Concern Over Expanded Prior Authorization
Last week, the AAOS joined a broad coalition of healthcare stakeholders in urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay the scheduled implementation of prior authorization requirements for two new service categories. The new requirements for cervical fusion with disc removal and implanted spinal neurostimulators were finalized in the Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule last year. Although AAOS advocated against the additional requirements when they were proposed last fall, the agency went forward with finalizing them. However, the trend of increasing prior authorization requirements has united physicians, hospitals, and device manufacturers in calling on CMS to provide an impact analysis on the use of previous requirements before implementation of the scheduled changes. The groups also request that the agency establish a transparent process for incorporating the feedback of patients and physicians to guide the decision-making process related to the use of prior authorization. Read the letter...

Healthcare Policy News

Medicare Sequester Cuts Suspended Through 2021
On April 13, President Joe Biden signed legislation extending the pause on Medicare sequester cuts through the end of 2021. Versions of the bill to delay $18 billion in automatic Medicare payment cuts passed the U.S. Senate on March 25 and the U.S. House of Representatives more recently on April 13. The 2% federally mandated Medicare sequester cuts were paused by Congress last year in response to the pandemic and its effect on healthcare providers' finances. That pause technically expired nearly two weeks ago on April 1, however organizations like the AAOS consistently advocated for an extension of the moratorium, arguing that the pandemic continues to negatively impact the healthcare industry. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also told Medicare administrative contractors to hold all claims with dates of service on or after the expiration date in anticipation of congressional action. Unfortunately, the final version of the bill signed by the president omitted a provision that would have shielded providers from an additional 4% cut to Medicare payments that the AAOS will continue to fight. Read more about the bill...

Healthcare Takeaways from Biden’s $1.5T 2022 Budget
On April 9, the Biden Administration released its ‘skinny budget’ for Fiscal Year 2022. This budget proposal in and of itself is not enforceable, but it does signal where the administration’s priorities stand. For example, the budget proposes increasing the Department of Health and Human Services funding by 23% more than Fiscal Year 2021. Within that lies $1.6 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is the largest increase in over 20 years, $9 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $3.9 billion targeted to fight the opioid crisis, and $1.6 billion for mental health block grants. The Department of Energy also received a proposed 40% increase, the Department of Commerce received a 28% increase, and the Department of Agriculture received a 16% increase. Read more about the budget proposal...

OrthoPAC Corner

Five New Members Join Orthopaedic PAC Executive Committee
The AAOS Orthopaedic PAC (OrthoPAC) is pleased to announce five new members to its Executive Committee. The group comprises 16 members who govern the direction of the OrthoPAC, which includes setting its contribution strategy and political priorities to best serve AAOS members and their patients. The new members are:

  • Lattisha Bilbrew, MD, FAAOS (Early-Practice Member)
  • Kevin Bozic, MD, FAAOS (AAOS Second Vice President)
  • Cass Igram, MD, FAAOS (Treasurer)
  • Sarah Nelson, MD, FAAOS (Resident Member)
  • Alexandra Page, MD, FAAOS (Chair-Elect, Board of Specialty Societies)

OrthoPAC would also like to thank the following departing members for their dedication and leadership to the program: Brett Freedman, MD, FAAOS; Craig Satterlee, MD, FAAOS; Buddy Savoie, MD, FAAOS; Wilford Gibson, MD, FAAOS; Kevin Cronin, MD, FAAOS; and Thomas Muzzonigro, MD, FAAOS.
Learn more about the PAC Executive Committee...

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