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

House Committees Advance Differing Legislative Solutions to Surprise Medical Billing

Last week, the House Committees on Education and Labor and Ways and Means considered different legislative approaches to address surprise medical billing. The House Committee on Education and Labor bill, H.R. 5800, the Ban Surprise Billing Act, sets a benchmark payment rate for unexpected out-of-network care at the median in-network rate. The legislation also includes an independent dispute resolution process for provider claims in excess of $750. Although the markup was contentious at times, the committee passed the legislation 32–13 with minor amendments. Committee members who expressed opposition to the legislation cited that rate setting would have damaging effects on the health care system and would unfairly provide more leverage to insurers in contract negotiations.

The House Committee on Ways and Means bill, H.R. 5826, the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act, takes a different approach by not defining an initial payment, leaving payment disputes between an insurer and physician to an open negotiation and mediation process. This bill sets no threshold to reach mediation; however, the mediator may consider the median in-network rate as well as a wide range of supporting information submitted by either party in the dispute. The committee passed the legislation unanimously by voice vote. Read the ACS letter to Ways and Means.

For more information, contact Carrie Zlatos, American College of Surgeons Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs Get Bipartisan Support

Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced legislation February 11 that is aimed at improving hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIP). H.R. 5855, the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2020, expands on previously introduced legislation by providing new grant funding to create HVIP programs and broadening the reach of successful  existing programs. The legislation 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.

HVIPs are multidisciplinary programs that identify patients at risk of repeat violent injury and link them with hospital- and community-based resources that 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.

Read the American College of Surgeons (ACS) letter of support. For more information, contact Hannah Chargin, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org.

Register Now to Participate in 2020 Annual ACS Surgical Simulation Summit

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) will host the annual Surgical Simulation Summit March 12–14 at the Swissôtel Chicago, IL. More than 300 people are expected to participate in the summit, which brings together surgeons and simulation center directors, educators, administrators, engineers, and researchers to share best practices, present innovative research, and discuss the latest advances in simulation-based surgical education and training. Registration for the 2020 Summit is open, and the deadline to register is March 2. 

The summit begins Thursday, March 12, with a Keynote Address by Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, FACS, chancellor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Surgical Education 2030: Challenges and Opportunities. A special panel on the value proposition of simulation-based surgical education will complement the address, with the following panelists offering their perspectives as distinguished university deans:

  • Barbara L. Bass, MD, FACS, FRCS(Hon), FCOSECSA(Hon), incoming dean, George Washington University, Washington, DC; former director of Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation & Education, TX; and ACS Past-President
  • Henri R. Ford, MD, MHA, FACS, FAAP, FRCSEng(Hon), dean and chief academic officer, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FL, and ACS Regent

The ACS is partnering with the American Society of Anesthesiologists Friday, March 13, to explore the unique surgeon-anesthesiologist relationship and explain how simulation-based training can be used to improve team dynamics and patient care. Panel sessions, scientific paper presentations, posters, and interactive workshops also are planned for the meeting. Concurrent sessions, including a special track for simulation center personnel, will be offered so attendees can maximize their meeting experience. Attendees can mingle with colleagues during a networking reception on Friday evening. The meeting concludes March 14. 

For more information about the Summit, contact Cathy Sormalis, Manager, Accredited Education Institutes Program, at csormalis@facs.org or at 312-202-5535.