This Week – December 23, 2017

This Week in Washington, D.C.

  • Tax Reform and Impact on ACG Members and GI Practices: What you should know
  • ACG Expresses Concern over Reports of Censoring Scientific Language at HHS Agencies
  • Call to Action: A Year-End Look at ACG’s Key Advocacy Issues. Act now!

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

Tax Reform and the Impact on ACG Members and GI Practices: what you should know

This week, Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate pushed through major reforms in the U.S. tax code.  The votes in both the House and Senate were along party lines.  According to estimates, the new “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” is estimated to cost the federal government roughly $1.46 trillion over 10 years.  President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday morning.  The signing of this bill may result in automatic spending cuts in 2018, which would be triggered from passing legislation that increases the federal deficit without corresponding revenue-raisers or cost-savers to offset the additional debt.  These automatic spending cuts would include $25 billion in Medicare alone.  ACG has highlighted this issue and continues to monitor this situation.  The tax bill lowers rates for each of the 7 individual tax brackets, topping out at 37% for the highest earners.  The bill also doubles the standard deduction and increases the child tax credit.  However, Congress must reauthorize these provisions after 2027.  The bill places limits on longstanding mortgage interest deductions for homeowners, as well as capping the deduction on state and local taxes.  ACG encourages you to speak with a tax professional to learn more.

ACG also encourages to you take advantage of an exclusive ACG Member Benefit and affinity program: ACG’s partnership with Wealth Management Strategies.

How are GI practices and patients impacted by the changes in the tax reform bill? Click here to read the full blog.

From ACG President, Irving M. Pike, MD, FACG

ACG Expresses Concern over Reports of Censoring Scientific Language at HHS Agencies

On Thursday, December 21st, ACG President Irving M. Pike, MD, FACG conveyed the College’s concern over recent media reports citing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies have been advised not to publish statements containing certain words, such as “evidence-based” or “science-based.”

The CDC and other HHS agencies employ among the best and brightest scientists in public health care.  ACG and our members rely on much of the research, data, and public health emergency response strategies published and deployed by HHS agencies, including the CDC.  Their expertise keeps Americans safe and keeps physicians well informed.  Dr. Pike’s letter noted:

Public health officials and physicians have a better understanding of strategies designed to reduce gaps in care and promote public health precisely because of the language intentionally used in this scientific research. Words matter in clinical medicine. Without important language such as “evidence-based” or “science-based,” it is difficult to make the distinction between sound data and mere assumption.

Click here to read the entire letter.

Call to Action:
A Year-End Look at ACG’s Key Advocacy Issues. Act now!

To close out 2017, ACG would like to put a spotlight on some key issues that you helped to advocate for throughout the year at both the federal and state and local level.  We urge you to voice your support of these bills to your representatives, and our Legislative Action Center makes this process simple. Check out the highlights of what you may have missed below, and take action now!

Want to help prevent MOC from being required as a condition for state licensure, hospital privileges, or employment?  See your state listed below? Click on your state and urge your state legislators to pass these bills.

Want to help prevent insurers from implementing “Step Therapy” policies for your IBD patients? Urge Congress and state legislatures to pass legislation that helps to protect the patient-physician relationship.

Want to help close a patient cost-sharing loophole in Medicare when a fee-for-service patient’s screening colonoscopies turn therapeutic?  Urge Congress to pass this bill calling to eliminate this coverage quirk.

Does your practice want to explore participating in a Medicare alternative payment model (APM)? Urge Congress to pass legislation that provides legal self-referral protections when participating in certain APMs.

Be sure to check out the complete list of bills and other important information on ACG’s advocacy website, where you can easily voice your support, both at the state and federal level.  Your legislators need to hear directly from you, and it only takes a few minutes of your time.