Advocacy Monthly: October 2018

October 2018

Society Attends White House Meeting on Patient Choice
Earlier this month, STS was invited to the White House for a discussion on patient choice in health care. The Society’s continued advocacy on price transparency and access to Medicare claims data resonated with White House staffers, resulting in the invitation. The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury are writing a report on choice and competition in health care markets. Once finalized, the report may help convince the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that registries such as the STS National Database need access to claims data for quality improvement and research purposes.

STS Supports Youth Tobacco Use Prevention
The Society sent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a letter applauding its recent efforts in addressing the youth e-cigarette epidemic, which include fining stores that illegally sell e-cigarettes to minors and requesting that manufacturers provide plans for mitigating youth sales. STS also urged the FDA to ban flavored e-cigarettes, which play a critical role in attracting new tobacco users (especially children) and increase the likelihood of long-term addiction.

Society Provides Feedback on Bundled Payment Model
The STS Task Force on Alternative Payment Models recently participated in a call with Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation staff regarding the next phase of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced (BPCI-A) payment model. BPCI-A includes two episodes relevant to cardiothoracic surgery: coronary artery bypass grafting and cardiac valves. The current version of the model uses quality measures that are not useful to cardiothoracic surgery, so the Task Force outlined the problems and provided recommendations for alternative measures in a follow-up comment letter.

STS Comments on Transplant Proposals
The Society submitted feedback on two proposals from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)/United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The first proposal outlined potential new frameworks for distributing transplant organs. STS urged OPTN/UNOS to wait until the effects of a recently implemented heart allocation policy are better understood before enacting further changes. The second proposal described ideas for improving transplant outcomes such as providing hospitals with guidance on transferring patients from pediatric transplant centers to other providers. STS supports providing such guidance, but noted the need for additional data to identify how the proposed changes would impact physician workloads.

Society Endorses Letters on Cardiovascular Health, QCDR Measures, and More
STS recently signed several joint letters that:

Key Contact Connect: Grassroots Advocates Take on Data Blocking
The power of the Society’s dedicated Key Contacts was evident during a recent effort to prevent EHR vendors from withholding data unless registries, including the STS National Database, pay significant fees. STS was asked to help gather signatures from members of Congress for a letter requesting that HHS prohibit this practice. Several STS members immediately volunteered to call their Congressional representatives, resulting in additional signatures.

Hearing directly from their constituents is a strong motivator for members of Congress to act—and a primary reason why the STS Key Contact Program is so important. Sign up as a Key Contact today so that the next time an opportunity arises, you’ll be prepared to advocate on behalf of your Society and your specialty.

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

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