Experts on Colorectal Cancer Prevention Brief Policymakers on Barriers to Lifesaving Screening

On Tuesday, experts from the American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, with special guest Representative James McGovern (D-MA) cohosted an event for members of Congress and staff entitled “Unsure about Screening?  We’ve got you covered. Learn the latest science, its relevance to policy decision making, and how it affects the screening-eligible population.”  Speaking on behalf of ACG was Board of Trustee, Renee L. Williams, MD, MHPE, FACG of NYU School of Medicine.

The briefing outlined colorectal cancer risk factors, broke down the differences among colorectal cancer screening options, emphasized the value of colonoscopy as a prevention tool, and highlighted barriers to colorectal cancer screening.

David A. Lieberman, MD, AGAF, Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS, FASGE, Renee L. Williams, MD, MHPE, FACG, and Steven A. Edmundowicz, MD, FASGE on Capitol Hill, March 12, 2019

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 51,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from colorectal cancer this year. Most of these deaths could have been prevented. Understanding colorectal cancer screening tests and recommendations is key to ensuring access to lifesaving screening.

Call to Action: Ask your representatives to support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2019!

We need your help! This week, a bill that ACG has strongly supported in the past has been reintroduced in the new congress. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced the “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2019 (S.668/H.R.1570).”  Representatives Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), and David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) introduced a corresponding bill in the House.  The bill fixes a Medicare coverage quirk contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by waiving Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing when screening colonoscopies turn therapeutic. Right now, Medicare only has the authority to waive the patient coinsurance for colonoscopies that remain a “screening.” The legislation has already garnered solid bipartisan support, with 42 and 122 cosponsors in the Senate and House, respectively, at the time of this writing.

Please urge your senators and representatives to cosponsor these important bills!

Click here to take action now!

How can I get involved?

What are some important bills impacting GI in Congress? In your state? How can you easily voice your support?

ACG’s Legislative Action Center is your one stop resource to review and advocate for various federal and state bills impacting your profession, practice, and patients.

Take action now!

ACG Governors in Washington D.C. next month: Important local issues impacting your area? Contact your ACG Governor!

ACG Governors and leaders advocating on the Hill last April for the 2018 Board of Governors Fly-In

ACG Governors and other ACG members will meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill next month as part of the 2019 ACG Board of Governors Washington D.C. Fly-In and Spring Meeting.  We will be there to advocate on your behalf!

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 77 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 Governor today!

Trump Administration Releases Proposed FY 2020 Budget: Blueprint for Congress

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

On Monday, as required by law, the Trump Administration released its proposed FY 2020 federal government budget.  The budget is a draft proposal, or “blueprint,” for Congress to consider as lawmakers debate and finalize appropriations for federal agencies and federal programs.  The proposals were met with little support by lawmakers of both parties.

ACG will continue to monitor the budget and appropriations process, including the following notables:

  • A proposed to cut NIH's budget by $4.5 billion.
  • The National Cancer Institute’s budget would also be cut by $897 million.
  • A proposal to cut the CDC's budget by $1.27 billion overall (the program focusing on vaccines for children would receive a $586 million increase).
  • Medicaid overhaul. The Trump administration is seeking a change to “block grant funding” and tighten eligibility standards. The proposal eliminates Medicaid’s open-ended funding in favor of sending fixed grants to states or setting per-person caps. With Democrats in control of the House, there is little chance Congress would approve any major changes to the program’s funding.

ACG will oppose any cuts impacting GI research and patient care.

ACG will also be very active on Capitol Hill on some other notables in the proposed budget related to Medicare and GI practice management:

  • The Physician Self-Referral Law (commonly referred to as the Stark Law): According to the draft, “Stark has been identified by as a significant impediment to care coordination, participation in alternative payment models, and the establishment of novel financial arrangements that further the goals of a value-based system.” Effective CY 2021, the Trump administration proposes to establish a new exception to the physician self-referral law for arrangements that arise due to participation in advanced Alternative Payment Models.
  • Implement Value-Based Purchasing Program for Outpatient Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers: According to the draft, “Medicare currently has value-based purchasing programs in place for inpatient hospital services and several other settings, but not for outpatient hospital services and ambulatory surgical centers.” Beginning in CY 2021, the Trump administration requests CMS to implement a value-based purchasing program for hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers.
  • Redesign Outpatient Hospital and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems to Make Risk-Adjusted Payments: According to the draft, “Medicare currently bases payments for services furnished at outpatient hospital and ambulatory surgical centers on the setting of care rather than patient acuity.” The Trump administration proposes to risk-adjust payments to these facilities based on the severity of patients’ diagnoses. These adjustments would be made in a budget neutral manner.

Encourage Participation in Advanced Alternative Payment Models & more: click here to read the full blog.