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

ACS Engages Congress on Surprise Billing Legislation

In anticipation of potential action on surprise billing legislation before the end of the year, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) sent a letter to congressional leadership reiterating its position that Congress should find a solution to protect patients from surprise medical bills. However, Congress should not enact bad policy in order to pay for other health care programs. More specifically, the College opposes using insurer-dictated federal payment rate setting as a go-around to addressing the root cause of surprise medical billing.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Greg Walden (R-OR) December 9 released details on an agreement they reached to address surprise medical billing. This plan, which uses a median in-network payment benchmark for out-of-network care, also included a restrictive independent dispute resolution (IDR) process.

After learning the details of the proposal, the ACS issued a press release articulating the College’s opposition to the new plan. Following the release of the agreement, more than 40 members of Congress sent a letter to House leadership in support of an accessible and meaningful IDR process. The ACS has stated that a comprehensive solution to unanticipated medical billing should avoid the long-term consequences of setting payment benchmarks, provide a fair and accessible IDR process, increase the transparency of insurance plans, address network adequacy, and level the playing field between physicians and insurers.

For more information on this issue, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

ACS Submits Information on Rural Health Care to Congressional Task Force

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) December 6 submitted a response to a request for information from the House Committee on Ways and Means Health Task Force on Rural and Underserved Communities. The ACS provided information to the Task Force about general surgery shortage areas and the need for both data and a formal shortage designation, the challenges associated with trauma care in rural areas, as well as information to ensure high-quality care and patient safety.

Read the ACS letter to the committee. The ACS looks forward to collaborating with the bipartisan Task Force to explore solutions to address the unique challenges facing rural and underserved communities.

For more information about workforce issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Drug Bill Includes Physician Fee Schedule Update

As Congress rushes to complete legislative business before recessing for the holidays, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider its highly anticipated drug pricing overhaul: H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The package is expected to pass the House by the end of the week. The Senate is unlikely to consider H.R. 3.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has been lobbying Congress to address the upcoming 0 percent update to the Medicare physician fee schedule, set to begin in 2021. Included in H.R. 3 is a two-year 0.5 percent update to the Medicare physician fee schedule, which is far short of the update needed. The ACS continues to advocate for more serious consideration of the Medicare physician fee schedule and is working with congressional champions to identify a solution.

For more information on this issue, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

Stop the Bleed Featured in Kaiser Health NewsStop the Bleed

An article about Stop the Bleed® kits being installed in classrooms across the U.S. recently was posted on the Kaiser Health News website, a news service that provides stories to news organizations throughout the country. The article, by Sandy West, includes input from Lenworth M. Jacobs, Jr., MD, MPH, FACS, Medical Director of the American College of Surgeons Stop the Bleed program; Billy Kunkle, deputy director for the Georgia Trauma Commission, and other trauma experts.

After the November 14 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA, bleeding control kits were used to treat victims and save lives. Prior to the incident, the kits were installed in schools in the district northwest of Los Angeles, where Saugus High School is located. The article also mentions state legislative efforts, such as laws in Georgia and Illinois, that will help distribute kits to schools in those states.

“'Among the advantages of having the kits in schools and more people trained on methods to stop bleeding, [Dr.] Jacobs said, is that a lockdown often follows a shooting. That prevents emergency responders from getting in or the injured from getting out. In every kind of trauma,' he said, 'minutes count,'” Ms. West reports.

For more information and the latest updates about Stop the Bleed, visit StoptheBleed.org.

Deadline to Participate in ACS SSR MIPS 2019 Is January 3, 2020Surgeon Specific Registry

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Surgeon Specific Registry (SSR) allows you the option to participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and is still available in the SSR for the 2019 performance year. The deadline to enter and approve your MIPS 2019 data through the SSR is January 3, 2020.

Submitting MIPS 2019 data to CMS will allow you to potentially either avoid a flat 7 percent negative payment adjustment or earn a positive payment adjustment of up to 7 percent in calendar year 2021.

If you have not done so already, verify your MIPS 2019 “Final Eligibility” via the CMS QPP Participation Status lookup tool by entering your individual surgeon National Provider Identifier number before signing up for MIPS 2019 in the SSR.

The SSR supports the Quality and Improvement Activities (IA) components of MIPS 2019, and CMS considers MIPS data submitted through the SSR individual, registry-based reporting. Visit the ACS SSR website for more information about MIPS 2019 participation, including participation options, reporting requirements, educational/instructional resources, and specifications for Clinical Quality Measures and IAs.

For any SSR programmatic questions, including MIPS participation, contact the ACS SSR Program at SSR@facs.org, or at 312-202-5408.

For SSR technical questions or issues (password reset, account reactivation, and so on), contact Technical Support at ACSTechSupport@iqvia.com, or at 877-600-7237 (toll-free).

Register for 2020 ACS General Surgery Coding Workshop

Register now to attend one of the 2020 American College of Surgeons (ACS) General Surgery Coding Workshops. With Medicare and third-party payor policy and coding changes taking effect in 2020 and new reporting for office visits for 2021, it is imperative that surgeons and their coding staff have accurate and up-to-date information to protect Medicare and other payor reimbursements and optimize efficiency.

Coding workshop attendees learn how to correctly code your procedures and services and will have access to the tools necessary to succeed, including a coding workbook to keep for future reference. 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 Nashville, TN, and Chicago, IL, coding workshops will include a third day devoted to trauma and critical care coding. The 2020 workshop dates and locations are listed below:

  • January 30–31, Las Vegas, NV
  • March 19–20, Dallas, TX
  • August 6–8, Nashville
  • November 12–14, Chicago

Register now for these workshops. For more information about the 2020 ACS coding workshops, visit the ACS website or e-mail practicemanagement@facs.org.