This Week – May 25, 2012

This Week in Washington DC:

  1. ACG Responds to House Ways & Means Committee Solicitation on Medicare Reimbursement
  2. ACG Endorses Drug Labeling Reform Legislation to Assist Patients With Celiac Disease

ACG Urges House Ways & Means to Reform Medicare Reimbursement This Year
On Friday, May 25th, ACG submitted comment to a recent House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee letter to various specialty societies seeking input on Medicare reimbursement reform. ACG appreciates the Committee engaging the physician community and specialty societies during this debate and urges Congress to implement meaningful reform this year. Absent legislation this year, ACG members face a 30% reimbursement cut in January 2013 due to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. ACG expects Congress to address this looming 30% cut, however, Congress should also use this opportunity to repeal SGR and pass permanent Medicare reimbursement reform.

ACG’s letter touted the quality improvement initiatives of the College and recommended incorporating registries, such as the ACG-ASGE quality improvement registry “GIQuIC,” in Medicare reimbursement reform should Congress decide to transition away from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service model. ACG further discussed the difficulties of bundled payments and shared-savings models in Medicare Part B, and also reminded the Committee that patient responsibility plays a critical role in these alternative payment models. ACG believes that the status quo for Medicare providers and beneficiaries is unsustainable. Yet Congress has no immediate plans to make changes to the Medicare fee-for-service beneficiary option. Therefore, the fee-for-service model still has a place in Medicare Part B at this time. That is why ACG recommends that the Committee use as guidance legislation such as the SCREEN Act (HR 3198) and a bill (HR 5707) recently introduced by Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck (R-NV) that permanently repeals the SGR formula and seeks greater provider-input when developing new payment models. These bills are subject to improvement but they provide a good starting point and are useful examples of value-based reimbursement grounded in outcomes-based quality metrics and evidence-based clinical guidelines.

ACG supports holding physicians accountable for the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. However, ACG also believes that providers should be adequately paid and rewarded for performing high-quality health care services. The current Medicare Part B reimbursement system does the opposite—it does not measure patient outcomes and it does not adequately pay physicians. Incorporating the use of improvement registries in Medicare has the potential to be a useful bridge connecting a high caliber of health care services and fair reimbursement.

Please click here to read the ACG letter to the House Ways & Means Committee.

ACG will continue to be a strong advocate for Medicare reimbursement reform before Congress and on behalf of its membership.

ACG Endorses Legislation Requiring Manufacturers to Add “Gluten” in Drug Labeling
On Thursday, May 24th, ACG endorsed legislation that requires drug manufacturers to include in their drug labeling inactive ingredients such as gluten or other wheat allergens.  The Gluten in Medication Identification Act (HR 4972) was recently introduced by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Nita Lowey (D-NY). This labeling change would assist ACG members when writing prescriptions for patients with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities. Current federal law requires food manufacturers to list gluten and other wheat allergens in packaged-food labels. However, there is no such provision related to medication labels, thus requiring ACG members treating patients with Celiac disease to independently investigate drug ingredients before writing prescriptions. ACG applauds Reps. Ryan and Lowey for introducing this important legislation impacting our patients. 

Please click here to read the ACG letter to Reps. Ryan and Lowey.

ACG and the ACG National Affairs Committee will continue to review and endorse legislation designed to improve clinical gastroenterology as well as the health of the patients we serve.

Please stay tuned for further updates. Please also share and discuss your thoughts with fellow ACG members on the ACG GI Circle. To login and share your comments, go to and sign in as a member. Once you have done so, click here and then click the orange "Visit ACG GI Circle" button to be taken to the GI Circle site. If you have not yet activated your ACG GI Circle account, please email us at

Contact Brad Conway, VP Public Policy, with any questions or for more information.

Brad Conway