STS Advocacy Monthly: June 2018

STS Comments on Inpatient Payment Rule
The Society has provided the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with feedback on proposed changes to the Fiscal Year 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payment System. The Society’s comments addressed hospital-level all-cause mortality measures, electronic health record (EHR) interoperability, and access to Medicare claims data for Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDRs) such as the STS National Database. STS also signed on to a related Physician Clinical Registry Coalition comment letter. The final rule is expected to take effect on October 1.

Society Nominees Appointed to Heart Valve Council, CMS Advisory Panels
STS Treasurer Thomas E. MacGillivray, MD will represent the Society on an advisory council to Heart Valve Voice, a patient group that advocates for early detection and timely access to appropriate treatment. The advisory council, comprising physicians, patients, and caregivers, will discuss gaps in knowledge regarding heart valve disease and develop research questions as part of a Pipeline to Proposal grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

In addition, the following STS members have been named to advisory panels that will help CMS develop clinical episodes for use in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System:

  • Aaron M. Cheng, MD: Member of the Pulmonary Disease Management Subcommittee
  • Keith A. Horvath, MD: Member of the Cardiovascular Disease Management Subcommittee
  • John A. Howington, MD: Member of the Gastrointestinal Clinical Subcommittee
  • Stephen J. Lahey, MD: Member of the Medicare Spending per Beneficiary Service Refinement Workgroup
  • Jeffrey B. Rich, MD:  Member of the Cardiovascular Disease Management Subcommittee 
  • Sanjay A. Samy, MD: Chair of the Elective Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Workgroup; Member of the Cardiovascular Disease Management Subcommittee and the Medicare Spending per Beneficiary Service Refinement Workgroup
  • James R. Scharff, MD: Member of the Cardiovascular Disease Management Subcommittee

Make Your Contribution to STS-PAC
So far this year, 221 STS members have contributed a total of $82,410 to STS-PAC, the only political action committee that exclusively represents cardiothoracic surgery. But the PAC’s work is not done, and we are still well short of the 2018 STS-PAC fundraising goal of $200,000. If you haven’t made your annual contribution, you can do so online. Contact Nick Beek, Political Affairs and Advocacy Manager, if you have any questions.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (third from left)
received the Society’s Legislator of the Year Award.

Key Contact Connect
STS Advocates Push for Residency Cap Increase, Access to Claims Data
Twenty-four STS members made their voices heard at the most recent STS Legislative Fly-In, held June 11-12 in Washington, DC. After a dinner briefing on Monday evening, attendees spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill meeting with legislators and staff from 55 Congressional offices and urging action on five key priorities—increasing the cap on resident training slots, providing QCDRs with access to Medicare claims data, advancing research on women and lung cancer, enacting Medicare coverage of oral/dental care, and reauthorizing PCORI. STS also presented Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) with its Legislator of the Year Award, celebrating his firm commitment to issues impacting cardiothoracic surgeons and their patients. View more photos from the Fly-In.

Get Tips on Advocating for the Specialty
A recent episode of the Society's podcast, Surgical Hot Topics, highlighted the STS Key Contact program, which offers grassroots advocacy opportunities. Experienced Key Contacts shared why they participate in political advocacy, described the importance of STS-PAC, and role-played a meeting with a Congressional staff member—showing both how things can go wrong and how to make them go right. Listen on the STS Podcast Episodes page, or subscribe to Surgical Hot Topics via iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you access your podcasts.

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

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