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Update on ACS Events in Response to COVID-19

In light of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact, the ACS has decided to cancel the 2020 Leadership & Advocacy Summit, March 28−31 in Washington, DC, and to reschedule the ACS Residents as Teachers and Leaders Course, originally scheduled for March 20−22 in Chicago, IL. 

Preliminary details about hotel and flight cancellations for the Leadership & Advocacy Summit can be found on the event web page, in addition to information on potential virtual events and ways to advocate from home.

Preliminary information regarding hotel and registration cancellations for the Residents as Teachers and Leaders Course can be found on the course web page. Updates regarding rescheduling of this course will be communicated as soon as possible.

Other meetings that are affected, as previously announced, include the following:

The College made these difficult decisions out of an abundance of caution and with concern for the safety of attendees their patients. Future meetings will be considered as we closely watch this situation unfold. We will share information soon regarding when the postponed events will be rescheduled.

Visit the ACS website for more information on COVID-19 and the ACS response.

ACS Urges Caution in Opening Communications with COVID-19 Map

The Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human issued an announcement March 10 that a malicious website posing as the live map for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) global cases from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, is circulating on the Internet. Visiting the website infects the user’s computer with the AZORult trojan, an information-stealing program, which can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data. It is likely being spread via infected e-mail attachments, malicious online advertisements, and social engineering. Furthermore, anyone searching the Internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website. The American College of Surgeons urges members to avoid opening any electronic communications from corona-virus-map[dot]com and that health care provider security teams blacklist any indicators associated with this specific threat.

A sample of the malware being deployed by “corona-virus-map[dot]com” was submitted and analyzed and received an extremely malicious threat score of 100/100 with anti-virus (AV) detection at 76 percent. Hybrid-Analysis labelled this sample as a trojan.

For details, go to:, send requests for information to HC3@HHS.GOV, or call the HC3, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm Eastern time, at 202-691-2110.

ACS Sends Letter to Key House Committee Leaders on Surprise Billing

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) joined other physician specialty organizations in sending a letter to congressional leaders as they work to reach a compromise on surprise billing legislation. The letter, which was sent to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means, outlines key components for a fair and effective legislative solution to surprise billing. At present, committee leaders are working to reconcile differences in their approaches to tackling the issue with the goal of including language in a broader package to extend certain health care programs beyond May 22.  

For more information, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at

CMS and ONC Release Final Rules to Advance the Interoperability of Health Information

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released final rules March 9 that will implement interoperability and patient access provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. The final rule put forth by CMS focuses on driving interoperability and patient access to health information by implementing policies that will help patient data flow freely and securely between payors, providers, and patients. The goals of the two rules are aligned in many ways; however, the rule that ONC introduced aims to provide additional opportunities for innovation through secure access to health data and new tools to help patients shop for and coordinate their own care.

Both rules finalized the adoption of standardized application programming interfaces and information-blocking provisions. Together, these final rules mark the most extensive health care data sharing policies the federal government has implemented, requiring both public and private entities to share health information between patients and other parties while keeping that information private and secure.

CMS and ONC both offer fact sheets that summarize the finalized policies in these rules. For more information, contact

Dr. Brendan Campbell Receives 2019 Arthur Ellenberger Award

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Health Policy and Advocacy Group selected Brendan Campbell, MD, MPH, FACS, associate professor of surgery and pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Hartford, as the recipient of the 2019 Arthur Ellenberger Award for Excellence in State Advocacy.

Dr. Campbell’s peers at the Connecticut Chapter of the ACS nominated him because of his commitment to advocating on behalf of patients and the surgical profession before state elected officials and policymakers in Connecticut, as well as encouraging other surgeons to engage in ACS and chapter advocacy efforts. The Ellenberger Award was presented to Dr. Campbell March 5 at the Connecticut Chapter’s Advocacy Day in the Connecticut State House.

Established in 2003, the award is named for the late Art Ellenberger, longtime Executive Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the ACS and an expert in state grassroots advocacy. The award is presented periodically to recognize a career of outstanding leadership and distinguished service and commitment to protecting patient access to high-quality surgical care through involvement in the state legislative and regulatory process.

For more information, contact Christopher Johnson, ACS State Affairs Associate, at or at 202-672-1502.

Pictured left to right: Connecticut Chapter leaders Kathleen LaVorgna, MD, FACS, Vice-President of Connecticut Chapter Legislative Committee; Dr. Campbell; Christine Van Cott, MD, FACS, Vice-President of Connecticut Chapter Membership Committee; and Christopher Tasik, CFP, Executive Director