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AAHPM Summer Quarterly 2012 : Page 7

SUMMER 2012 7 Specialty Section Council, helping to guide overall AMA policy in these areas. AMA membership also allows AAHPM to join with state and specialty medical societies in communicating concerns to policy makers. The Academy can be heard on issues that may not be the primary focus of AAHPM’s advocacy agenda, but where member interests can still be advanced. For example, AAHPM has been part of AMA-led efforts to repeal the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payment. The SGR formula has called for yearly cuts in Medicare physician reimbursement for the past decade. Each time, Congress voted to push those cuts down the road. (The SGR prescribed a 29.4% cut to take effect in January 2012. Congress passed a 10-month “fix” in February.) These wranglings contribute to Medicare program instability and compromise patients’ access to care. The stop-gap measures also produce steeper future cuts and have increased the cost to repeal the formula by more than 500% over the last few years. independent forum for discussion by medical specialists of issues of national interest and mutual concern. Today, CMSS represents 38 societies with aggregate membership of 700,000 US physicians. AAHPM was among the CMSS members to sign a joint letter to CMS commenting on a proposed rule to implement the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA). The PPSA is intended to provide transparency in reporting of payments or gifts to physicians and physician ownership and investment interests. CMSS is supportive of the legislation, having provided important input into the original legislation, but signatories asked for clarification and modification of the rule to avoid unintended consequences in areas that relate to accredited and certified continuing medical education (CME), including direct physician compensation for serving as CME program faculty and indirect payments through third parties (such as grants from applicable manufacturers to CME providers). In addition, member societies are developing a joint strategy to protect graduate medical education funding from cuts during the lame duck Congress later this year. AAHPM has also weighed in on proposed federal Participation in CMSS not only advances the interests regulations through AMA-led efforts, recently signing on of AAHPM’s physician members, but it also brings to joint comments on a proposed rule the Centers for attention to the needs of patients with Medicare & Medicaid serious illnesses. When late last year Services (CMS) issued AAHPM submitted its comments on a US for Conditions of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) draft Participation related to blueprint for opioid prescriber education, critical access hospitals. State and specialty For a smaller medical specialty the Academy relayed its feedback to CMSS. CMSS incorporated many of AAHPM’s medical societies society such as AAHPM, points in its own letter to the FDA, including expressed concern that suggesting that the agency require a basic the rule would give collaboration and strategic curriculum to address differences in the too much discretion alliances are critical to care of special populations, including those to the hospital/health with cognitive impairment and end-of-life system and diminish advancing our policy agenda. patients, who are frequently managed by medical staff influence, practitioners without specialist-level training. including their clinical decision making. Leadership, group process, and decision Particularly concerning making are key considerations in determining to Academy leaders how well any group functions, whether it is an were the implications for our rural members. AAHPM also interdisciplinary care team or a large coalition working joined in commenting on a CMS rule regarding reporting to advance public policy goals. Together, the group can and returning of physician overpayments. Physicians accomplish much more than any one member alone. You, are currently obliged to return overpayments under provisions of the ACA. The Academy signed on to a letter too, can play a role in that advocacy. AAHPM members are encouraged to visit aahpm.org to access AAHPM’s that highlights ways the proposed rule fails to clarify key elements of the obligation and contravenes other existing 2012 policy priorities and learn how they can amplify the CMS overpayment initiatives. The signatories also pointed voice of hospice and palliative medicine. to requirements, such as a 10-year look back period, that Stephen A. Leedy, MD FAAHPM, is Executive Vice President and Chief place an undue burden on physicians. AAHPM is a newer member of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), founded in 1965 as an Medical Officer at Tidewell Hospice, Inc. in Sarasota, FL. He serves as chair of AAHPM’s Public Policy Committee. Contact him at sleedy@ tidewell.org. Jacqueline M. Kocinski, MPP, is AAHPM’s Director of Health Policy & Government Relations. Contact her at jkocinski@aahpm.org. VOL. 13

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