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

ACS Expresses Concern about MedPAC Fee Schedule Discussion

An American College of Surgeons (ACS)-led coalition of 20 surgical organizations sent a letter January 10 to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) expressing concern about a recent discussion in which commissioners suggested rebalancing the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) toward primary care services. The coalition asserts that underlying assumptions in that discussion are incorrect. More specifically, the coalition questions—and counters—the problems MedPAC describes with regard to how the MPFS pays for primary care, MedPAC’s concerns about income disparities between primary care and specialty physicians, and the effectiveness of increasing payment to certain specialties in order to address workforce issues. MedPAC is scheduled to continue the discussion January 12.

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency established to advise Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program. For more information about the coalition letter, e-mail regulatory@facs.org.

CMS Creates Data Submission System for Quality Payment Program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new data submission system for providers who participate in the Quality Payment Program (QPP). The QPP is composed of two tracks, but in the early years, most providers will participate via the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Providers can now submit all of their 2017 MIPS data through this submission system.

Providers can submit and update data any time until March 31, with the exception of CMS web interface users, who are required to report quality data January 22 to March 16. As data are entered, providers will see real-time initial scoring within the MIPS performance categories. Data are automatically saved and clinician records are updated in real time. Hence, a clinician can begin a submission, leave without completing it, and then finish it at a later time without losing the previously entered information. Payment adjustments will be calculated based on the last submission or submission update that occurs before the submission period closes March 31.

Providers use their Enterprise Identity Management (EIDM) credentials to log in and submit data. The CMS website features a user guide with instructions to create an EIDM account.

For more information about the QPP data submission system, review the CMS fact sheet or view any of the following training videos:

For more information, contact CMS at QPP@cms.hhs.gov, or the American College of Surgeons Division of Advocacy and Health Policy at qualityDC@facs.org.

Call for Scientific Forum Abstracts and Video Submissions for Clinical Congress 2018 Now Open

Clinical Congress 2018The call for Scientific Forum Abstracts and Video Abstracts for the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2018, October 21–25 in Boston, MA, is now open. Abstracts for the Owen H. Wangensteen Scientific Forum and the Video-Based Education Sessions should be submitted using the following links:

The submission deadline is Thursday, March 1, at 5:00 pm (CST). The Scientific Forum Committee does not accommodate or consider late abstract submissions.

Medical students, surgery residents, and practicing surgeons and scientific researchers at all levels are encouraged to submit abstracts. Categories include, but are not limited to, the following: general surgery, cardiac/thoracic surgery, bariatric/foregut, breast, endocrine, ethics, global surgery/humanitarian outreach, health sciences research, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopaedic surgery, surgical education, urology, and vascular surgery. Visit the Clinical Congress 2018 website for additional information on the abstract submission process.

Register for 2018 ACS General Surgery Coding Workshop

Registration is now open to attend American College of Surgeons (ACS) 2018 General Surgery Coding Workshops. With Medicare and third-party payor policy and coding changes taking effect this year, it is imperative that surgeons have accurate and up-to-date information to protect reimbursement from Medicare and other payors and to optimize efficiency.

During the coding workshop, you will learn how to report surgical procedures and medical services and will have access to the tools necessary to succeed, including a coding workbook to keep for future reference with checklists, resource guides, templates, and examples. Physicians receive up to 6.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ for each day of participation. In addition, each day of the workshop meets AAPC guidelines for 6.5 continuing education units.

The ACS will offer the following seven coding workshops in 2018:

  • Southlake, TX, January 25­–26
  • Las Vegas, NV, February 8–10
  • Orlando, FL, February 22–23
  • Chicago, IL, April 12–13
  • New York, NY, May 17–19
  • Nashville, TN, August 9–10
  • Chicago, IL, November 1–3

For the first time, the ACS also will offer a three-day course, including a day devoted to trauma and critical care coding at the Las Vegas, New York City, and (November) Chicago workshops. For more details, visit the ACS website or e-mail practicemanagement@facs.org.

Lawmakers Continue Search for Answers to Opioid Crisis

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) conducted a hearing January 9 on ways to address the opioid crisis in the U.S. The hearing was one in a series that the HELP Committee is conducting as it continues its efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

For its part, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is educating and working with committee members to find ways to prevent opioid abuse and addiction in surgical patients. Specifically, ACS staff is meeting with key legislators and submitting testimony. As new ideas are proposed, the ACS will continue to work with Congress and the HELP Committee in a way that ensures all patients receive the most appropriate and highest quality care.

For more information, contact Mark Lukaszewski, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at mlukaszewski@facs.org.

HHS Nominee Moves through Senate Confirmation Hearing

The Senate Committee on Finance on January 9 approved the nomination of Alex Azar to be Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at a confirmation hearing. The next step for Mr. Azar, who is President Trump’s nominee, is a full Senate vote.

Mr. Azar was twice selected for roles at HHS by former President George W. Bush, and twice approved by the Senate. After his time at HHS, Mr. Azar served as U.S. division president for Eli Lilly and Company.

If confirmed, Mr. Azar will be in charge of HHS’ $1.11 trillion annual budget and would oversee 11 agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He also will have the opportunity to implement key pieces of legislation, such as the 21st Century Cures Act.

For more information, contact Mark Lukaszewski, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at mlukaszewski@facs.org.