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

NewsScope: May 17, 2019

Editor’s note: Because of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, ACS NewsScope will not be published May 24. Publication will resume May 31. Best wishes to all of our readers for a happy and safe holiday.

ACS Cohosts Capitol Hill Briefing on Unanticipated Billing

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) cohosted a May 16 briefing for members of Congress and their staffs to inform them about the physician perspective regarding the issue of unanticipated, or surprise, billing. Patrick V. Bailey, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Advocacy, ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, moderated the discussion. Panelists from the American Society of Anesthesiology (Michael Champeau, MD, FASA), American College of Emergency Physicians (Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP), and the American College of Radiology (William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, FACR) highlighted the physician community’s major concerns with recently proposed legislative solutions, as well as potential ideas for a path forward. 

The panelists expressed the physician community’s concerns about plans to resolve the issue by providing a single payment to hospitals—a called “hospital bundling”; benchmarking payments to Medicare or other tenuous rates; and “network matching,” whereby physicians are forced in-network in accordance with their hospitals’ network plans. The speakers focused on potential areas for compromise. Solutions offered included addressing the narrowing of networks and network adequacy; looking at state models that work, such as New York’s arbitration model; and leveling the playing field for physicians through policies that address anti-trust exemptions and consolidation in the insurance industry. The panelists agreed that first and foremost, patients should be taken out of the middle on any proposed solutions.

Physician organizations that also supported the briefing include the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the College of American Pathologists, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Further information on the College’s position on unanticipated billing can be found on the ACS website. If you have questions related to the briefing or the issue of unanticipated or surprise billing, contact Kristin McDonald, Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org or 202-672-1512.

College Supports Reauthorization of the Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) endorsed legislation introduced May 14, the Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2019, H.R. 2689/S. 1438. In 1998, breast cancer surgeon Ernie Bodai, MD, FACS, launched a campaign to create the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. Since then, more than one billion stamps have been sold in the U.S., raising more than $89 million for cutting-edge breast cancer research. The current authorization of the stamp expires this year, putting critical research and development at risk.

The Breast Cancer Research Stamp is available for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) customers to purchase for 10 cents above the cost of regular first-class postage. The stamp’s revenues cover USPS’s administrative costs and fund breast cancer research programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Because the Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2019 is budget neutral, no additional spending is required.

 “Incredible progress in the treatment of breast cancer is due to the cancer community uniting and supporting funding to create a stable foundation for research in the battle against this disease,” said Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs. “The breast cancer research stamp has raised millions of dollars for the NIH and the Medical Research Program at the DoD. The continuation of the stamp is a way for all Americans to fight breast cancer in their day-to-day lives.”

Read the ACS support letters to both the House and the Senate, and encourage your members of Congress to support this legislation by visiting the SurgeonsVoice web page. For more information about this legislation or to issues related to cancer care, contact Kristin McDonald, Manager, ACS Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.

Legislation to Address Physician Shortages Introduced in Senate and House

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), and Charles Schumer (D-NY), as well as Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and John Katko (R-NY), have introduced S. 348/ H.R. 1763, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019. This bill seeks to bolster the U.S. surgical workforce and health care infrastructure by increasing the number of Medicare-supported residency positions nationally by 3,000 each year from 2019 through 2023 for a total of 15,000 slots.

To ensure that the nation has a physician workforce that is capable of meeting the needs of the U.S. patient population, broad reforms in graduate medical education (GME) funding and administration are long overdue. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) position is that these solutions must be flexible, nimble, patient-centric, and, most importantly, evidence-based. This legislation is a critical first step, and the ACS looks forward to working with members of Congress on GME policy reforms and other issues that affect the physician workforce.

Read the College’s letters of support for the legislation to the Senate and the HouseTake action through SurgeonsVoice by requesting that your Senator and Representative support S. 348/ H.R. 1763.  For more information, contact Hannah Chargin, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org.

Dr. Sachdeva Receives ISE Maestro AwardDr. Sachdeva

The Institute for Surgical Excellence (ISE) has honored Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, FSACME, Director, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Education, with its second annual Maestro Award.

ISE, a not-for-profit organization that convenes leading innovators, hospital executives, and surgeons to improve of surgical standards and patient outcomes, presented Dr. Sachdeva with the award at its recent Robotic Surgery Credentialing Consensus Conference in Celebration, FL. Representatives from dozens of institutions with extensive robotic surgery credentialing experience, including from surgical societies and industries, attended the meeting.

The award recognizes Dr. Sachdeva as “an exemplary individual who is not only a remarkable thought leader but also an expert in the field, able to think outside the box with invigorated goals and ideas,” according to the ISE press release. Like a maestro conducting a symphony, Dr. Sachdeva “inspires others to work together for ultimate success.”

“The individuals gathered together here in Celebration are passionate, sharing a common goal of establishing standards and pursuing innovation to provide patients the best surgical care,” Dr. Sachdeva said. “Robotic-assisted surgery offers doctors another tool to advance the care of patients.”

Dr. Sachdeva is an advocate for the development and implementation of systems to address the training and retraining needs of surgeons. He has served as president of several national professional organizations, including the Association for Surgical Education, Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, American Association for Cancer Education, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and Alliance for Clinical Education.