Washington Watch Weekly - February 21, 2020 | ASCRS
Washington Watch

Washington Watch Weekly

Register Now: ASCRS Webinar Dispelling the Myths About the Cataract Episode-Based Cost Measure – What’s Included and What’s Not

Join ASCRS on February 26 from 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET for the webinar, “Dispelling the Myths About the Cataract Episode-Based Cost Measure: What’s Included and What’s Not.”
 In this webinar, ASCRS/ASOA Director of Government Relations Nancey McCann will explain the cost measure: what’s in included, what’s not, and how it measures the cost of cataract surgery. Don’t miss this session to learn more about this measure.


To register, click here. Attendance at this webinar provides 1 COE credit. ASCRS and ASOA members receive complimentary registration for the webinar with the coupon code CATA0226. If you are unable to attend this webinar, register and we will send you a link to the recording and slides after the session concludes.


For more information on the Cost category, visit the ASCRS ASOA MACRA Center and review the ASCRS 2020 Category Guide. If you have any questions regarding registration, contact Jillian Winans, regulatory affairs specialist, at 703-591-2220 or jwinans@acrs.org.


ASCRS Calls on Members to Assist with FTC Request to Provide Examples of Incomprehensible Prescription Verification Messages


We are calling on ASCRS and ASOA members to help with a recent request from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff in regard to the Contact Lens Rule.Recently, ASCRS joined with the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in a meeting with FTC staff to discuss the contact lens market. During the meeting, we reiterated our members' complaints of online retailer violations, especially robocalls that leave incomprehensible verification messages. As a result, the FTC has requested audio files of these prescription verification messages.

Please send any audio examples of incomprehensible prescription verification messages to Jillian Winans at jwinans@ascrs.org. We appreciate your assistance.


Register Now: ASCRS/ASOA U.S. Domestic Members and ASCRS YES Program Members are Invited to Attend the Annual Alliance of Specialty Medicine Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C., June 15-17

Event Info: June 15-17, 2020; Liaison Hotel Capitol Hill; Washington, D.C.

We welcome all U.S. domestic ASCRS and ASOA members to join their colleagues from other specialties in Washington, D.C. this summer for another great Legislative Fly-In event! During this event, you will experience first-hand the importance of meeting with your members of congress and staff. You will learn how to become an effective advocate and then turn that knowledge into action in-person on Capitol Hill. Please plan to join us for this year’s Fly-In, June 15-17 in Washington, D.C.  Up to $1,000 in travel expenses will be reimbursed to each member who attends the Fly-In.


Scholarship Alert: ASCRS/YES Alliance of Specialty Medicine Legislative Fly-In Scholarship

Are you currently or know of any ASCRS Young Eye Surgeon (YES) members whom might be interested in attending the annual fly-in event? ASCRS and the Young Eye Surgeons (YES) program are excited to announce a full-scholarship opportunity for U.S. resident and fellow members of ASCRS who want to effect positive change for their profession and patients. Please feel free to forward this announcement! For more information, or to apply for this opportunity, please use the links below:

Download:  YES Legislative Fly-In Scholarship Flyer
Apply Now: YES Legislative Fly-In Online Application

Legislative Fly-In Background Information:
Each year, members from ASCRS and ASOA make their way to Washington, DC to join the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, a coalition of 14 “like-minded” specialty medical groups that focus on preserving access to specialty care, for legislative “Fly-In” days. All participants will participate in an advocacy briefing session, where you will learn the proper techniques to become effective advocates with your members of congress and their staff. You will then travel to Capitol Hill to meet with your legislators and lobby for shared priority issues. During these meetings, ASCRS and ASOA members will have the opportunities to share personal stories that help illustrate the effect of policies in Washington, and to thank your elected officials for their support on key legislative issues and to encourage their continued support. Traveling to Washington to meet with your members of congress is also a great way to offer yourself as a resource to make sure that accurate information is used in making public policy decisions. We hope that you will consider this opportunity!


CMS to Host Overview of Open Payments Call on March 19

On Thursday, March 19 from 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET, CMS will host a call on the 
Open Payments program. CMS will provide an overview of the Open Payments program, registration process, and will review critical deadlines for physicians and teaching hospitals to review and dispute data. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. Register for the call here.


As a reminder, the data on Open Payments is submitted by manufacturers and group purchasing organizations regarding payments made to physicians. Each year, Open Payments data is updated at least once to include information from disputes and other data corrections. The data is published to the Open Payments website for the public.


2020 Physician Fee Schedule Returns to CMS Website; Some Carriers Not Paying Recommended Rates for New Combined Cataract and ECP Codes

Following action by Congress in late 2019 to extend the geographic pricing index for Medicare rates, CMS had to make updates to the data in the 2020 physician fee schedule and removed it from its website. CMS has completed the updates and returned the fee schedule to the website

In addition, ASCRS has received reports from members that some Medicare administrative carriers (MACs) are not paying adequately for new CPT codes 66987 and 66988 for combined cataract surgery and endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP). CMS did not accept the Relative Value Update Committee’s (RUC) recommended values for these codes in the 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule and instead designated them as “carrier priced,” which gives MACs the ability to set their own reimbursement level for the codes. ASCRS is working with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to advocate for appropriate reimbursement for these codes. We will keep you updated.

Study Finds Increase in Private Equity Investment in Medicine; Cites Role in Surprise Billing Issue

This week, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network found that private equity firms purchased 355 physician practices between 2013 and 2016 and the trend continues to grow. This report comes at a time when private equity’s role in medicine is under scrutiny in regard to the debate over surprise medical bills. Oftentimes, large physician staffing groups, especially for emergency medicine, are owned by private equity and may not participate in any private insurance as a way to increase payment rates, thereby leading to significant “surprise” bills for patients who may visit in-network hospitals. Medical societies and hospital associations have endorsed an independent dispute resolution (IDR) system when surprise out-of-network bills arise, however, insurers and employer groups favor creating federal benchmark rates for surprise bills. Private equity firms have invested heavily in advocacy campaigns in favor of IDR, drawing criticism from some policymakers. The article published this week recommends more study into private equity’s role in acquiring medical practices.

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