AUA Advocacy Snapshot: Week of October 7, 2019

By Policy and Advocacy Brief posted 10-08-2019 15:15


This week’s update includes information on the 6th Annual Bladder Health Alliance Roundtable meeting, the Omnibus Burden Reduction Final Rule, our congressional advocacy regarding topics such as MACRA implementation and Veterans’ Healthcare, and the AUA’s collaboration with state urological societies.

AUA Convenes More Than 25 Advocacy Organizations at 6th Annual Bladder Health Alliance Roundtable Meeting

BHA_1_2.jpgOn October 2, the AUA and the Urology Care Foundation hosted a successful Bladder Health Alliance Roundtable meeting that brought together more than 25 patient, physician, and research advocacy organizations. Advocates convened for a full day meeting to discuss topics including innovative bladder health research programs taking place at the National Institutes of Health; collaboration opportunities for promoting policies that reduce stigma associated with bladder health conditions and improve bladder health behaviors; how advocates can become engaged with the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI); and the current federal research funding landscape and how advocates can best engage with lawmakers to protect funds for urologic research.

Of note was our closing panel that utilized the expertise and insight of AUA's lobbying firm, District Policy Group, who put together an impressive panel that featured former Congressman Phil Gingrey, MD, and Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations staffer Laura Friedel. This panel discussion BHA_2_2.jpgresulted in engaging conversation that provided attendees with tangible tactics they can use to strengthen their grassroots advocacy efforts. You can view pictures and key takeaways from the event by searching hashtag #bladdersmatter on Twitter.

2020 MPFS: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incorporates Collective Feedback on E/M Changes

The new 2020 proposal from CMS in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) maintains five levels of coding for established patients, and decreases the number of code levels to four for new patients. CMS also proposes to adopt the AMA RUC-recommended E/M code values, which would result in increases in payment for these codes. Read more about the changes here.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF): AUA Building Bipartisan Support for Reform Bill

The AUA continued its efforts to garner additional cosponsors for the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 3534). On October 1, the AUA met with staff in the office of Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05). As a freshman member, Rep. Hayes’ office was unfamiliar with the issue, but understood the need to keep the public involved in any process that impacts their access to healthcare.

As a reminder, the AUA has an active grassroots campaign supporting H.R. 3534. If you have not done so, please contact your representative (our Phone2Action system allows you to send both letters and customized tweets) and urge them to support the bill. We also ask that your colleagues do the same.

MACRA Implementation: AUA Participates in Coalition Meeting with Senate Finance Committee

On October 2, the AUA participated in a meeting with the Senior Health Policy Adviser to the Senate Finance Committee. The meeting was orchestrated by the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, of which the AUA is a part, and covered issues with Medicare Fee-For-Service, Advanced Alternative Payment Models, and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and how Congress should maintain the positive payments to physicians that these programs provide that are set to expire at the end of 2019.

As a result, the Alliance has drafted a letter to the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee, encouraging them to extend the timelines for these programs. The AUA will continue to monitor MACRA implementation and work with its Alliance colleagues and members of Congress to ensure viable options for our physicians.

Veterans’ Healthcare: AUA Attends Veterans’ Health Council Meeting

On September 30, the AUA participated in the Veterans’ Health Council Fall Partners Meeting. During the meeting, a number of strategies were discussed, including how best to coordinate care for veterans; the implementation of the MISSION Act, which was designed to give veterans greater access to health care in VA facilities and the community, expand benefits for caregivers, improve the VA’s ability to recruit and retain the best medical providers; and how to find effective ways to collaborate with other groups on behalf of veterans. The AUA discussed the efforts of the AUA Veterans’ Health Workgroup and their engagement with both the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to improve prostate cancer treatment at VA facilities around the country.

State Advocacy Update: New York Introduces Legislation to Update Surprise Billing Law

On October 2, New York Assembly member Richard Gottfried (D) introduced AB 8639 that requires a general hospital, in the state of New York, to provide the patient a consolidated itemized statement of a bill detailing in plain language, the specific nature of charges or expenses incurred by the patient. AB 8639 allows the patient to be held harmless from certain bills for emergency services and surprise bills if they are not insured for services provided by a physician at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center where they have not timely received all of the required disclosures.

AB 8639 has been referred to the Assembly Health Committee, and is available here. An identical bill has also been introduced in the Senate (SB 6757) and is available here.

The AUA continues to follow both federal and state surprise medical billing issues closely. We  will keep you updated as these bills move forward.

CMS Updates: First Friday Clinician Outreach Meeting

On October 4, the CMS Clinician Outreach Meeting focused on the Omnibus Burden Reduction (Conditions of Participation) Final Rule, and a reminder of the transition period to the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Read more.

Insurance Updates: Week of October 7, 2019

Each week, the AUA publishes weekly updates on the latest insurance issues pertaining to urology. This week’s update includes a revision to the criteria for Sacral Nerve Stimulation from Quartz Health Plan, and Medical Mutual’ s update for the GnRH Antagonists medical policy. Blue Cross of Idaho has updated the Prostatic Urethral Lift medical policy coverage, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has revised the Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy medical policy. Read more here.

2020 Gallagher Scholar: AUA Accepting Applications

The AUA is now accepting applications for the 2020 Gallagher Health Policy Scholar program. Applicants must be AUA member urologists who have demonstrated a commitment to or have a keen interest in the field of health policy and who are dedicated to advancing urology's health policy agenda. Previous Gallagher Scholars are now among some of the AUA’s top health policy leaders, and attribute participation in this program as a key step in making the transition into leadership roles. Learn more about the program and how to apply.