Our Annual Scientific Meeting and Post Graduate Course October 16-21 in Honolulu, Hawaii, is fast approaching. The scientific program offers more than 65 oral presentations, 10 scientific symposia, more than 2000 posters and 18 hands-on sessions. The agenda is relevant for members of all phenotypes (gastroenterologists, trainees, clinical affiliates) and is an opportunity for us to update our clinical knowledge, CME, MOC, practice management and endoscopy skills.
For insight on the latest scientific research, key sessions and other clinical highlights, check out the ACG website (acgmeetings.gi.org), where you will find information on late breaking abstracts. Of note, is the newly added session on “CRE Infection in Endoscopy: What Happened and What now” on Tuesday, October 20th, from 2:45-4pm.” I hope the meeting agenda strikes a balance between the formal science and an informal social agenda appropriate for the islands. Looking forward to meeting with you there.
In the meantime, as I begin to reflect on my year as president, much of our efforts have been focused on two critical aspects of our profession: maintenance of certification and reversing proposed drastic cuts to Medicare reimbursement for lower endoscopy procedures. Both of these remain quite fluid and will not be immediately resolved.
At our Annual Business Meeting last year in Philadelphia, the singular item of “new business” from our members in attendance pertained to outrage regarding the ABIM change in regulations regarding Maintenance of Certification and the inappropriate burdens (including direct, and indirect costs) to sustain MOC. As most are aware, the ABIM has taken a step back and is now poised to replace the high stakes 10-year MOC exam. Already they have made changes to its MOC programs; including the suspension of quality and safety requirements until more meaningful requirements are defined (ACG continues efforts regarding quality and safety as exemplified by GIQuIC).
Dr. Sunanda Kane one of our ACG officers has been serving on the ABIM GI Advisory Board along with representatives from the other GI societies. While an ACG Task Force led by Dr. Neena Abraham has successfully focused on integrating MOC into our Annual Scientific Meeting and Regional Postgraduate Courses, we are consolidating efforts to support our membership, along with our sister societies, to influence ABIMs subsequent plans for “staying current” and maintaining appropriate clinical competencies.
Who is better suited to assess, inform and represent our field with the ABIM than our College’s more than 13,000 members and affiliates, along with representatives from our sister societies? We are optimistic that your voices have been and will be heard as ABIM has recently discussed plans to replace the current model 10-year MOC exam while focusing on cognitive and technical skills. In particular, the ABIM is recognizing the role of specialties (and sub-specialties) and the potential to maintain certification in specialized areas without the need to maintain underlying certificates. We will continue to offer MOC-related CME while we continue to work under the ACCME rules to develop additional CME appropriate for re-certification and means of assessing relevant technical skills.
Dealing with the federal government is an even more complex challenge and the recent CMS proposals to cut endoscopy fees for Medicare patients would substantially impact our membership and risk efforts to reduce the rates of colon cancer by impacting patient access to screening. In a detailed letter to CMS, and I do mean detailed, ACG and the three GI societies state that, “If unchanged, the proposed 2016 rates for lower GI endoscopy procedures would cut physician work values for some colonoscopy procedures by up to 20 percent. It is short-sighted and counter-productive to propose policies that will undermine access to proven cancer prevention strategies and endanger all of the progress and current momentum we have made over the past two decades in our fight against colorectal cancer.” Learn more
I would urge members to peruse the 33 page document developed by ACG staff and National Affairs Committee Chair Dr. Caroll Koscheski to gain insight into the extent and detail of regulatory documents and response to regulators on behalf of our members and patients. Read full text. I would emphasize that ACG has attempted to take the “high road” in discussions and debate by highlighting the impact of cuts on patient access to colonoscopy screening along with appropriate indications and quality metrics for all endoscopic procedures.
So, on to Hawaii, where I am looking forward to an outstanding and innovative scientific program, and the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues in a variety of social settings. You can find all the information for ACG 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course on the ACG Website. Aloha!