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

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: March 11

ACS Webinar on Implementation of Office E/M Coding Changes—Register Now!

The American College of Surgeons Division of Advocacy and Health Policy invites Fellows and surgical practice staff to the second in a series of webinars describing proper implementation of office and other outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) codes, which were extensively updated for 2021. Join four surgeons with expertise in general surgery coding and reimbursement as they discuss accurate office visit E/M code level selection for common patient scenarios at general surgery clinic visits. Attendees will benefit from insights shared by the speakers about the revised elements of medical decision-making, such as chronic versus acute problems, tests ordered versus tests reviewed and minor surgery versus major surgery, among others.

Major Changes for 2021 Office E/M Coding, Part 2: Implementation Tips

Wednesday, March 24 | 8:00–9:00 pm ET

Register

Webinar speakers will include the following members of the ACS General Surgery Coding and Reimbursement Committee: Linda M. Barney, MD, FACS, GSCRC Chair; Jayme D. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FACS; Megan E. McNally, MD, FACS; and Don J. Selzer, MD, FACS, FASMBS.

For additional E/M education tools, visit the ACS Office/Outpatient E/M Coding Changes Resource Center. Contact Lauren Foe, Senior Associate for Regulatory Affairs, at lfoe@facs.org with questions.

President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan into Law

Earlier today, March 11, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue plan, into law after the House of Representatives and the Senate finalized the legislation in the last week.

The bill contains several public health provisions aimed at supporting COVID-19 vaccine distribution and strengthen the health care workforce, as well as provisions to expand aspects of Medicare and Medicaid coverage. President Biden signed the bill just ahead of the March 14 funding deadline.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Examines Telehealth

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce convened a virtual hearing March 2 to examine "The Future of Telehealth and How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care." The hearing examined the ways in which telehealth has expanded access to care during the public health emergency and what, if any, actions can be taken to ensure that the benefits of telehealth can be maintained after the PHE for both patients and providers. A robust discussion between Members of Congress and witnesses occurred on a range of issues, including making permanent some of the current telehealth policies, such as originating site requirements, and payment for audio-only services. Additionally, Committee members sought information on ways to increase access to telehealth services in rural areas, including enhancements to broadband connectivity, treating patients across state lines and state licensure issues.

For more information about Telehealth, please contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

ACS Supports Legislation to Improve the National Instant Background Check System

In 2018, the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma released a set of 13 recommendations from its Firearm Strategy Team (FAST) Workgroup. These proposals include strategies and tactics to reduce firearm injury, death and disability in the U.S. One of these recommendations includes support for a robust and accurate background check for all firearm purchases and transfers.

The Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2021 (H.R. 8) and the Senate companion legislation, the Background Check Expansion Act of 2021 (S. 529), are legislative solutions that would require all firearm sales to go through the National Instant Background Check System as established under the Brady Handgun and Violence Prevent Act. The ACS believes this legislation is a key step in addressing the public health crisis. The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 8 as soon as this week.

Read the following ACS letters of support to the Senate and House, respectively:

For more information on trauma advocacy, contact Kristin McDonald, ACS Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.

ACS-Endorsed Legislation to Support Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs Reintroduced

Trauma centers stand on the front lines of the interpersonal violence epidemic. With injury recidivism rates as high as 55 percent, trauma surgeons and other advocates are exploring ways to close this revolving door to decrease violent injury, similar to the methods that have been used effectively to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs are multidisciplinary programs that identify patients at risk of repeat violent injury and link them with hospital- and community-based resources aimed to address underlying risk factors for violence, such as mental health and social determinants of health. Data indicate the HVIPs reduce violent injury recidivism, as well as hospital costs, but more research is needed to better target these efforts and help spread them to areas of need around the country.

The ACS is pleased that the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act (H.R. 1260) would provide grant funding to create new HVIP programs as well as expand current successful programs. It also requires research on best practices, which will play a critical role in documenting the success of these programs and will create a road map for hospitals to follow.

Read the ACS letter of support for the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2021.

For more information on trauma advocacy, contact Kristin McDonald, ACS Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.