Advocacy Monthly: March 2019

March 2019

STS Prepares Comments for Updated CMS TAVR Coverage Proposal
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed an updated national coverage determination (NCD) for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) that would require hospitals to perform 50 aortic valve replacements each year—including at least 20 TAVRs—in order to maintain a TAVR program. The CMS proposal is less rigorous than recommendations that STS, along with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American College of Cardiology, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, published as an expert consensus last July. All four societies are currently working together to submit comments on behalf of their respective members.

STS Receives Esteemed Eisenberg Award
The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum (NQF) have awarded STS the prestigious John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who undertake groundbreaking initiatives that support “better care, healthy people and communities, and smarter spending.” The Society was honored for its quality programs, including the STS National Database, NQF-endorsed composite performance measures, and the STS Public Reporting initiative. The award was presented on March 25 during the NQF Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

STS Works with ELSO to Expand ECMO Coverage
Representatives from STS and the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization have presented new extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) codes to the ICD-10 Procedural Coding System Coordination and Maintenance Committee. Based on the presentation, which took place March 5 at the Department of Health and Human Services Headquarters in Baltimore, it is likely that CMS will recommend the revision of existing ECMO codes to cover all methods of cannulation.

Grassroots Advocate Hosts Site Visit 
STS Member Dr. Kevin Accola recently hosted Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) at his institution, AdventHealth Cardiovascular Institute, in Orlando, FL. They discussed the Society’s 2019 Advocacy Priorities as they toured the surgical area, transplant units, and Children’s Hospital. Site visits are a highly interactive and effective way to communicate with your members of Congress. If you would like to give your elected officials a tour, please contact Madeleine Stirling to get started. 

Attend the Summer Legislative Fly-In
Join your colleagues in Washington, DC, for the Society’s next Legislative Fly-In, June 24-25. When surgeons speak, Congress listens. A dinner briefing will be held on Monday, June 24, followed by breakfast and Capitol Hill meetings the next day that will be customized for each participant. To secure your spot, email Madeleine Stirling. Scholarships are available for four STS members and will cover reasonable travel and meal expenses. Apply online by Tuesday, April 30, to be considered; award decisions will be made by Monday, May 6.

    STS Endorses Letters on Deferred Loan Payments, Physician Shortage, and Tobacco Use
    The Society has joined dozens of national medical societies, public health groups, and research organizations in sending letters to Congress and government agencies urging action on the following issues:

    • Deferred Loan Payment—Congressional appropriators were asked to support the Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act, which would allow medical and dental residents to defer their student loans interest free during residency.
    • Resident Physician Shortage—Lawmakers were asked to support the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, which would increase the number of residency slots in order to address the looming cardiothoracic surgeon shortage as older physicians retire.
    • Smoking & Health
      • The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies was asked to support a $100 million increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health to address the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth, expand existing programs that work, and target groups/regions disproportionately harmed by tobacco use.
      • The Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies was asked to approve the authorized level of user fees ($712 million) for the FDA to oversee tobacco products. 

    Questions? Want to get involved in advocacy?
    Contact the STS Government Relations office via email or at 202-787-1230.

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