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

House Committees Approve Legislation to Repeal the ACA

Two key congressional health care committees, the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on March 9 approved the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans introduced the legislation earlier this week. Additional House committees will consider the AHCA next week.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is in the process of reviewing the legislation against the 2017 ACS Health Care Reform principles that the Board of Regents approved at its meeting in February. The College has and continues to engage with lawmakers from both parties in the most effective way possible to ensure that any final legislation provides access to quality surgical care for all Americans. For more information, contact ahp@facs.org.

CMS Allocates Funds to Help Small Practices Succeed in QPP

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on February 17 granted approximately $20 million to 11 community-based organizations (CBOs) for the first year of a five-year program to educate and provide training on the Quality Payment Program (QPP) to health care practitioners in individual or small group practices with up to 15 clinicians. CMS will invest up to an additional $80 million over the next four years.

CBOs will provide these educational resources free of charge to numerous small practices, particularly those health care professionals who practice in historically disadvantaged and under-resourced areas, including rural areas, health professional shortage areas, and medically underserved areas. The CBOs will help practitioners successfully participate in the QPP by providing assistance with tasks such as selecting and reporting quality measures. A list of the 11 CBOs is included in the CMS press release.

To further assist practitioners in the transition to QPP, CMS has introduced a helpline that can be accessed at 866-288-8292. For more information, visit the CMS QPP website or contact Molly Peltzman at mpeltzman@facs.org.

Protect Your Medicare Payments: Attend an Upcoming ACS Coding Workshop

Register now to attend the American College of Surgeons (ACS) General Surgery Coding Workshop, May 11−12 in Oak Brook, IL. The Medicare program has undergone significant changes in 2017, and it is imperative that surgeons have accurate and current information related to Current Procedural Terminology coding to protect their Medicare reimbursements. By attending the two-day workshop, participants will learn to accurately report medical procedures and services. The workshop also will provide the necessary tools to succeed, including a coding workbook to keep for future reference. Physicians earn 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.

For more information, including the schedule for other 2017 ACS Coding Workshops, visit the College’s CPT Coding Workshops web page or e-mail practicemanagement@facs.org.

New Category in QPP MIPS: Improvement Activities

Physicians can avoid a Medicare payment penalty in 2019 by reporting on the Improvement Activities component of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) in 2017. While the Quality and Advancing Care Information components of MIPS resemble and replace previous Medicare programs (the Physician Quality Reporting System and the Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs, respectively), the Improvement Activities component is a new requirement. In a new video, Patrick V. Bailey, MD, MLS, FACS, Medical Director for Advocacy, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, discusses the Improvement Activities component of MIPS. Learn more about Improvement Activities on the ACS Improvement Activities web page, and more about the QPP on the QPP webpage.

Dr. Thomas Starzl, the “Father of Transplantation,” Passes Away

Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD, FACS, known as the “father of transplantation” for his role as the first surgeon to perform a successful human liver transplant and for developing techniques for safe, standardized surgery in the field of transplantation, died March 4 at his home in Pittsburgh, PA. He was 90 years old.

After nearly a decade of laboratory research and surgical practice at institutions such as Northwestern Medical School, Chicago, IL, and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, Dr. Starzl performed the world’s first successful liver transplant while practicing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1967. This achievement came at a time when the prevailing medical opinion on the feasibility of liver transplants was pessimistic, but Dr. Starzl’s monumental success led to a newfound clinical interest in the possibilities of allogenic human transplantation. In 1980, he introduced anti-lymphocyte globulin and cyclosporine to his previous development of azathioprine and corticosteroid immunosuppression to prevent organ rejection. It was this advancement that moved organ transplantation from being considered an experimental to a clinically accepted treatment modality.

Dr. Starzl joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1981 as professor of surgery; there, he launched the first liver transplant program in the U.S. Though he retired from clinical and surgical service in 1991 after serving as chief of transplantation services at various Pittsburgh hospitals, he remained at the University of Pittsburgh as distinguished service professor of surgery and director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.

Read about Dr. Starzl’s storied career and a statement from his family. For a more thorough account of Dr. Starzl’s accomplishments, visit the University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Thomas E. Starzl website.