This Week – September 2, 2017

This Week in Washington, D.C.

  • CMS Advisory Panel finds insufficient evidence for health outcomes in the Medicare population for surgical and endoscopic procedures
  • Congress’ Summer Recess: Great time to advocate for your patients and GI practices participate in MIPS and APMs
  • Back by Popular Demand: Joint ACG-FDA Fellowship Program
  • ACG’s MACRA Tidbit for the Week: ACG urges CMS to help independent GI practices successfully participate in MIPS and APMs

CMS Advisory Panel finds insufficient evidence for health outcomes in the Medicare population for surgical and endoscopic procedures

On Wednesday August 30th, ACG joined various specialty societies and patient advocacy groups at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review outcomes of bariatric surgery and endoscopic procedures in the Medicare population.  The Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MedCAC) concluded that the current literature was insufficient to assess the benefit/risk balance for bariatric surgery in obese Medicare beneficiaries.  Although Medicare currently covers some bariatric procedures, coverage is generally available only to beneficiaries with morbid obesity (BMI≥35), those with a minimum of one obesity-related comorbid condition, such as type 2 diabetes, and those that have previously attempted another medical treatment for obesity. The panel emphasized the need for more data — specifically, the need for future studies on age, race, gender, differences in VA population versus others, diversity, and other sub-group analyses, including an effort to recruit certain populations as well as studies on which populations may benefit from specific procedures or services. The MedCAC panel plays an advisory role for CMS, by reviewing the evidence and voting on specific questions related to the data. CMS ultimately makes the coverage determinations.

According to CMS, obesity affects over one-third of the Medicare population and can be a serious medical condition causing numerous complications, many of which are highly prevalent in the Medicare population.  Thus, ACG is committed to fighting this U.S. epidemic, and will continue to work with like-minded organizations, patient advocates and policy makers on expanding treatment options for patients, both via endoscopy as well as non-procedural services.


Congress’ Summer Recess: Great time to advocate for your
patients and GI practices

While Congress is still in recess, this is a great time to advocate on behalf of your patients and ACG colleagues.  Whether it is improving access to colorectal cancer screening, access to drugs, or enhancing funding for GI research, ACG’s website makes this very easy to do.  Reach out to your elected officials while they are at home—health care reform is stalled in Congress but far from over.  Now is the perfect time to remind Congress of the important health policy issues impacting ACG members and your patients.

ACG is also busy this summer on the regulatory front, as we aim to improve policies impacting your practice, and to reduce the number of administrative and regulatory burdens associated with practicing medicine.

You can view the available action alerts for any current key legislation on the home page of the linked site below. Also, by clicking on the “Bills” section, you can view information about any relevant bills that ACG is tracking at both the federal and state level. See one missing? Let us know!

Click here to take action now!


Back by Popular Demand: Joint ACG-FDA Fellowship Program

Current fellows are invited to submit their application for a one-month rotation at the FDA, sponsored by ACG. The candidate chosen will have the opportunity to participate in daily FDA activities, and will gain first-hand knowledge of the drug and device approval process. The College will provide a stipend for travel and daily living expenses. All applications must be submitted directly to ACG, and will be reviewed by the ACG FDA Related Matters Committee along with staff at the FDA.

Upon completion of the rotation (while you are a fellow), the candidate will be invited by ACG to present his or her experiences at the following ACG Annual Scientific Meeting. The application process is now open. All applications must be submitted by September 22, 2017. The candidate will be chosen and notified of acceptance by November 2017.

For complete details regarding the FDA-ACG Fellowship Program, click here.

ACG urges CMS to help independent GI practices successfully participate in MIPS and APMs

ACG recently submitted the College’s comments to CMS’ proposed rule on Year 2 of the Quality Payment Program, the regulation outlining proposed requirements for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM) incentives under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.  CMS will review these comments and publish the final rule in the fall of 2017.

The College’s comments are all rooted in this same theme of reducing administrative and financial burdens borne by GI practices across the nation.  ACG’s goal is to let our membership focus on what they do best: providing high quality GI health care services to Medicare beneficiaries and patients.

ACG’s comments were also included in this recent article on the MACRA proposed rule.