A Day on the Hill
Radiologists from the ACR Association take their message to Congress to advocate on the specialty's behalf.
On Monday, May 6, AMCLC attendees began their advocacy training. During the meeting, Congressman Tom Price, MD (R-Ga.), a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, spoke in detail about the legislative prospects for the Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR) bill (HR 846/S 623) as well as the process for reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula this year.
Member and interventional radiologist Steven L. Ferrara, MD, currently serving as the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also spoke about the direction of reforming the reimbursement formula for physicians and discussed his unique perspective as a physician serving as a congressional staff person on the Hill.
On Tuesday, the College gave its prestigious Congressional Award for Radiological Excellence (CARE Award) to Senator David Vitter (R-La.). Senator Vitter served as the lead Republican in the last Congress on the College's MPPR bill and has agreed to do so again in this Congress. Additionally, Sen. Vitter was the lead in 2010 in getting a provision included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires the federal government to set aside the November 2009 USPSTF recommendations related to breast cancer and mammography screenings. A second CARE Award was presented to Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) by members of the ACR Maryland Delegation the following day. Sen. Cardin led the charge in the Senate during the last Congress and in this Congress to repeal the MPPR. As an influential member of the powerful Finance Committee, Sen. Cardin will play a significant role during the debate to enact the MPPR legislation.
On Wednesday, more than 525 members visited more than 350 congressional offices as part of radiology's annual visit to Capitol Hill. They had two primary legislative issues to discuss on the Hill: the ACR's new utilization management initiative and the repeal of the 25 percent MPPR to the professional component of certain diagnostic imaging services.
The new utilization management policy, a key component of Imaging 3.0™, mandates referring physicians consult appropriateness criteria through a clinical decision support tool to ensure the imaging test they are ordering is not only clinically appropriate but also in the best interest of the patient. The feedback that participants and government relations staff received from congressional staff on both sides of the aisle has been overwhelmingly positive. As a result of these visits, it is anticipated that a bill will be introduced in the House shortly. Future introduction and eventual passage of this legislation will solidify the role of the radiologist as the "physician's physician" in new payment models.
The MPPR bill, the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act of 2013, would prohibit CMS from continuing to implement the 25 percent MPPR to the professional component of certain diagnostic imaging services until the entity produces the data used to arrive at that percentage. The bill continues to gain traction on the Hill after a very positive level of support in the last Congress. To date, there are more than 100 co-sponsors on the House bill H.R. 846. (Approximately 23 of the co-sponsors signed on as a result of the member visits.) Meanwhile, seven senators are co-sponsoring the Senate's version of the bill (S 623), five of whom were also recruited during the visits.
Background information and talking points on both of these issues can be found at http://amclc.acr.org/AdvocacyHillVisit.aspx. To find out if your member of Congress or Senator has cosponsored HR 846/S 623, please visit the advocacy section at www.acr.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Issues/MPPR.