This Week – September 30, 2017

This Week in Washington, D.C.

  • ACA Repeal Watch: Senate Republicans Fail to Come to a Consensus Yet Again
  • ACG Urging CMS to Grant MACRA Exemptions for Areas Impacted by Hurricanes
  • MACRA Tidbit for the Week: Don’t forget to use ACG’s MACRA resources for 2017

From ACG Legislative and Public Policy Council Chair, Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG

ACA Repeal Watch: Senate Republicans Fail to Come to a Consensus Yet Again

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decided not to hold a vote on the plan drafted by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Bill Cassidy, MD, FACG (LA), Dean Heller (NV), and Ron Johnson (WI) to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).  This was touted as the last opportunity to pass health reform in the Senate this year, as September 30th is the deadline to use the legislative budget process to pass any repeal bill by a simple majority.  However, Sen. McConnell decided to pull the vote after Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Ted Cruz (TX), John McCain (AZ), and Rand Raul, MD (KY) all came out in opposition to the bill for various reasons.  While substantive policy discussions may still be making headlines, this latest failure by Republicans to come to a consensus should seal the fate of repealing the ACA this year.

ACG’s take: As the College has stated throughout the year, the process to repeal the ACA had become a test of political strategy and gamesmanship in order to get something/anything passed, as opposed to an opportunity for Congress to improve substantive issues with the ACA.  There is much to improve, including provider issues impacting GI practices, and fixing certain quirks in the ACA’s patient coverage and cost-sharing protections.  Congress must also deal with stabilizing insurance markets across the country, along with other traditional year-end health care bills.  ACG will continue to be your voice on Capitol Hill, advocating for clinical GI and patients.

Will ACA repeal resurface? Read the full blog here.

ACG Urging CMS to Grant MACRA Exemptions
for Areas Impacted by Hurricanes

Last week, ACG reported that due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the agency is granting exceptions under certain Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs to hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers located in affected areas.

This week, ACG called upon CMS to grant MIPS/MACRA reporting exemptions for clinicians practicing in areas impacted by the recent hurricanes.  The College supports and appreciates CMS’ proposals to use regulatory flexibility and continue the gradual transition into MACRA.  ACG now urges CMS to use this flexibility and authority to grant exemptions for those providers affected by these hurricanes and are subject to MIPS, just as CMS has rightfully granted exemptions for facilities impacted by these storms.  ACG will also work with Congress to help provide regulatory relief, so that ACG members and others can dedicate their resources to treating patients and repairing damages to their practices.

Remember to contact your ACG Governor on important state and local issues impacting you and your practice.

The ACG Board of Governors is one of the most unique aspects of the American College of Gastroenterology. Governors are ACG Fellows that are elected from the membership of a particular state or region. There are currently 76 Governors across seven different regions in the U.S. and abroad. The Board of Governors acts as a two-way conduit between College leadership and the membership at-large. This helps the College make certain it is meeting the evolving needs of the membership.  Contact your ACG Governor today.

Don’t forget to use ACG’s MACRA resources for 2017

CMS views CY 2017 as a transition year to ease Medicare providers into MIPS.  What does this mean?

ACG members who submit 90 consecutive days of 2017 data will avoid a payment cut, and may be eligible for a bonus in 2019.  You will not get any extra points, or larger bonuses, for submitting 90 days vs. a full calendar year of data.  It is simply a choice.

If you don’t send in any 2017 data, then you will receive a 4% payment cut in 2019.

If you submit a minimum amount of 2017 data to Medicare, you can avoid a payment cut.  For example, submitting one quality measure for one patient, or attesting to one improvement activity will suffice.

ACG members are encouraged to use the various MACRA resources, including the detailed overview of MACRA, “ACG’s “Making $ense of MACRA”, the ACG-CMS webinar on MIPS program, and ACG’s “quality reporting checklist.”  Check out the comprehensive list of ACG’s “MACRA Tidbit for the Week” here as well.