American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

In the News

In the News

Learn more about health policy and advocacy news, federal legislative topics, College programs, and updates from surgeon advocates.

2019

April

2019 ACS Leadership Summit a Success
The eighth annual American College of Surgeons (ACS) Leadership & Advocacy Summit took place March 30–April 2 in Washington, DC. More than 560 ACS leaders and members attended the Leadership Summit March 31. Attendees enjoyed presentations from notable speakers from the medical and academic worlds on topics that included advancing in your surgical career, raising performance through coaching, advancing care through information technology, using mentorship in leadership development, and refining your negotiation skills.

Summit Participants Discuss Health Policy Priorities with Legislators
A total of 293 surgical leaders from 47 states participated in 253 meetings on Capitol Hill Tuesday, April 2, as part of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Leadership & Advocacy Summit. In these visits, ACS Fellows met with members of Congress and their staffs to help educate legislators on health care issues.

SurgeonsPAC Recognizes 2018 PAC Award Recipients at ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit
The American College of Surgeons Professional Association political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) recognized the 2018 PAC award recipients at a Leadership & Advocacy Summit luncheon sponsored by the PAC.

March

House Legislation Introduced to Address General Surgery Shortages
Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA); Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (R-IN); Scott Peters (D-CA); and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) March 21 introduced the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act, H.R. 1841. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) issued a letter of support for the legislation, which would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study to define and identify general surgery shortage areas. 

Surgeons Can Access Facility-Based Score for 2019 MIPS Reporting
Beginning with the 2019 performance year of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), clinicians, groups, or virtual groups who meet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) facility-based clinician criteria will be able to use their Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program performance score for MIPS reporting. Surgeons can determine whether they meet the facility-based criteria through the QPP Participation Status lookup tool.

ACS Sends Letter of Support for Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) sent a March 19 letter of support to Congress for the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, H.R. 1570/S. 668. This legislation, sponsored by Reps. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Donald McEachin (D-VA),  and David McKinley (R-WV) in the House, and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate, would eliminate an unintended cost barrier to lifesaving colorectal cancer screening for Medicare beneficiaries.

State Legislatures Consider Bleeding Control Legislation
The state legislatures are in full swing, and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) state chapters have begun working with elected officials to introduce legislation mandating the installation of bleeding control kits in public buildings.

ACS Offers Congressional Testimony on Firearm Research
Ronald M. Stewart, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Trauma, American College of Surgeons (ACS), testified on the College’s behalf March 7 at a U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on firearm violence.  The hearing, Addressing the Public Health Emergency of Gun Violence, focused on the need for increased government funding for firearm injury and prevention research.

College Responds to Request for Information on Reducing Health Care Costs
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted comments March 1 to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on specific steps Congress could take to lower health care costs, incentivize care that improves patient outcomes, and improve patient access to information about their health care to make informed decisions.

ACS Supports Legislation Promoting Access to Care for Congenital Anomalies
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) joined a coalition of groups in support of the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), S. 560/H.R. 1379. This legislation recognizes the importance of ensuring access to the care and services necessary to improve or restore function or approximate a normal appearance resulting from a congenital anomaly, such as cleft lip and palate, skeletal and maxillofacial abnormalities, facial paralysis, microtia, hypodontia, and craniosynostosis.

Dateline DC—Democrat leaders shift focus to preserving Affordable Care Act protections
The start of the 116th Congress ushered in a new political dynamic between the two chambers of the U.S. Congress. With the Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, one of the main priorities of the majority party has focused on retaining the popular components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To reinforce the importance of this issue, key committees already have convened hearings on a variety of topics related to protecting of paramount ACA provisions.

ACS Supports Research Funding for Firearm Morbidity and Mortality Prevention
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has joined more than 100 medical, public health, and research organizations in support of research funding for firearm morbidity and mortality prevention. In letters to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the ACS asked for $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research pertaining to gun violence in U.S. communities.

House Passes Bipartisan Background Check Legislation
On February 27, the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, by a 240-190 vote. This legislation, introduced by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Peter King (R-NY), would require all gun sales to go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) established under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.

ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC Recognizes COT State Fundraising Competition Winners
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma (COT) set a goal of having 70 percent of its members participate in the ACS Professional Association’s political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC).

February

CMS and ONC Release Proposed Rules to Advance Interoperability of Health Information
Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released proposed rules to advance the interoperability of health information and other health information technology (HIT) initiatives.

2018 QPP Data Submission Windows Closing Soon
The data submission period for 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) performance data opened on January 2, 2019, and the submission windows will be closing soon. Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data can be submitted through multiple mechanisms, including the QPP portal on the QPP website, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Web Interface, Medicare Part B claims, electronic health records (EHRs), Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDRs), and Qualified Registries.

ACS Supports Bipartisan Legislation on Background Checks for Firearm Sales
The House Judiciary Committee February 13 reviewed and recommended for a floor vote bipartisan legislation to strengthen background checks on all gun sales.

ACS Supports Legislation to Help Level Negotiating Playing Field for Physicians
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) February 12 sent a letter of support for the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, S. 350, to Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

ACS Continues to Support Eliminating the 96-Hour Rule for Critical Access Hospitals
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) February 12 sent a letter of support for the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act, H.R. 1041, to Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Terri Sewell (D-AL).

Congress Looks to Preserve Protections for Preexisting Conditions
The U.S. House of Representatives held three hearings February 6 focused on the Affordable Care Act and coverage for patients with preexisting conditions, reflecting the new Democratic House majority’s prioritization of the issue of access to comprehensive and affordable health insurance coverage.

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Gun Violence
Following the State of the Union Address Tuesday, February 5, the House is back to work, with several committees holding hearings on a range of hot-topic issues.

February 14 Is the Deadline to Submit and Approve 2018 MIPS Data through ACS SSR
All surgeons using the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Surgeon Specific Registry (SSR) to comply with the Quality Payment Program (QPP) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for 2018 must approve the data submission for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the SSR system. As a courtesy, the ACS SSR has extended the deadline to Thursday, February 14.

Government shutdown ends, Congress begins work on health care priorities
Thousands of federal employees resumed work after Congress and President Trump reached an agreement January 25 to temporarily end the partial government shutdown. The 35-day shutdown is the longest on record, and the accompanying debate set the tone for what looks to be a highly partisan 116th Congress.

ACS Submits Comments on ONC on Draft Strategy to Reduce EHR and HIT Burdens
Earlier this week, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on its draft Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT (HIT) and EHRs (Electronic Health Records).

2018

ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC makes an impact on 2018 midterm elections
December 2018
Just as the American College of Surgeons (ACS) strives to represent all of surgery and focuses on an extensive list of priorities, the ACS Professional Association Political Action Committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) establishes relationships with several different policymakers to ensure surgical advocacy remains a top priority in Washington, DC, and across the country.

ACS works with Congress to address the U.S. opioid crisis
September 2018
The ACS advocacy efforts and policy positions regarding the opioid crisis are summarized as are the key points of the SUPPORT Patients and Communities Act, which includes provisions for treatment, prevention, and safe disposal of opioids.

EHRs add to surgeons’ administrative burdens: The ACS responds
September 2018
EHR usability challenges are summarized, including its inability to adapt to individual practices and outdated documentation guidelines.

You are your own best advocate: A how-to guide
September 2018
Strategies for enhancing the role of surgeons in health policy advocacy are highlighted.

ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit: A resident’s perspective
August 2018
Lessons learned at the 2018 Leadership & Advocacy Summit are summarized in this resident’s report.

Dateline: DC—House passes ACS priority bills before starting in-district work period
August 2018
A summary of three key health care proposals that were passed by the House in July: the Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, and the ASC Payment Transparency Act of 2018.

Dateline: DC—Maintaining a strong investment in cancer care
July 2018
We look at the ACS’ and the Commission on Cancer’s cancer-related advocacy priorities, including pediatric cancer research, colorectal cancer screening, and quality of life improvement.

Dateline: DC—ACS advocacy efforts related to reauthorization of PAHPA
June 2018
Take an in-depth look at the College’s advocacy efforts related to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.

Dateline: DC—ACS launches SOMO initiative to fight regulatory burdens
May 2018
Provides an update on ACS efforts to reduce the administrative burdens on surgeons, including the new Stop Overregulating My OR (SOMO) initiative.

Dateline: DC—FY 2018 omnibus legislation includes funding for ACS priorities
April 2018
Summarizes the provisions in the omnibus funding legislation (H.R. 1625) for fiscal year 2018 that correspond to key ACS legislative priorities, including cancer research, the opioid epidemic, trauma research, and violence prevention.

Dateline: DC—BBA addresses several ACS priorities
March 2018
A summary of provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act that will affect health care providers—including elimination of “misvalued codes” and technical corrections in MIPS— are described.

Dateline: DC—How does a government shutdown affect health care and advocacy?
February 2018
This month's column provides updates on the government shutdown, ACS' 2018 legislative priorities, and state lobby days.

Dateline: DC—Updates on ACS activities
January 2018
This column provides updates on College advocacy and health policy activities, including advanced alternative payment models, Stop the Bleed, the Physician Compare website, and HIPAA guidance on the opioid epidemic.

2017

Dateline: DC—Introducing a new column
December 2017
To help readers stay up-to-date on the activities of ACS advocacy and health policy activities, the Bulletin introduced a new column to the online version of the publication—“Dateline: DC.”

ACS cautions Congress about payment cuts
December 7, 2017
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) cautioned Congress against paying for tax reform and federal government funding legislation through cuts in Medicare that could threaten patient access to quality care.

Marshall issues floor speech in support of Stop the Bleed
December 7, 2017
Rep. Roger Marshall, MD (KS-01) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of Stop the Bleed®.

Advocacy efforts in 2017 that will affect rural surgery
October 4, 2017
A shortage of general surgeons is a critical component of the workforce crisis in health care. Accordingly, the ACS is urging policymakers to recognize—through the designation of a formal surgical shortage area—that surgeons are uniquely trained and qualified to provide certain necessary, lifesaving procedures and are, therefore, an essential component of a community-based health care system.

ACS pushes forward on federal legislative priorities
September 1, 2017
Since the start of the 115th Congress in January, the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) has been actively engaged with legislators on Capitol Hill, ensuring that the interests of surgeons and surgical patients are represented during policy debates.

Using advocacy to advance ACS policy priorities for surgeons and their patients
September 1, 2017
Since the start of the 115th Congress in January, the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) has been actively engaged with legislators on Capitol Hill, ensuring that the interests of surgeons and surgical patients are represented during policy debates.

Surgical leadership is required to reverse the opioid crisis
August 2, 2017
This article summarizes the scope of the opioid crisis and describes the recent changes to federal and state regulations governing opioid prescribing practices. It also offers several brief profiles that illustrate how individual surgeons are mitigating the effects of the opioid crisis through research and advocacy.

Key ACS issues, including health care reform, dominate 2017 Advocacy Summit
August 2, 2017
The State Affairs staff in the ACS Washington office monitors bills and resolutions introduced at the beginning of the legislative calendar in an effort to identify policy trends that affect the ability of the surgical community to provide safe, quality care for patients. This article describes the bills and legislative trends that the College is monitoring in 2017.

Trauma care funding, scope of practice, and cancer prevention lead state legislative agendas
May 1, 2017
The State Affairs staff in the ACS Washington office monitors bills and resolutions introduced at the beginning of the legislative calendar in an effort to identify policy trends that affect the ability of the surgical community to provide safe, quality care for patients. This article describes the bills and legislative trends that the College is monitoring in 2017.

The ACS and advocacy: A tradition of protecting our patients and advancing our profession
August 1, 2016
The past successes of the ACS reflect the commitment of surgeon leaders across the nation whose boots on the ground approach paved the way forward. Together, surgeons of today and tomorrow have an unprecedented opportunity to shape the direction and potential of surgical advocacy, ensuring the protection of our patients and the future of our profession.