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

Editor's note: Because of the upcoming holidays, ACS NewsScope will not be published December 27 and January 3. Publication will resume January 10, 2020. The College wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season.


Congress Passes Spending Bills

The U.S. Congress passed two spending bills totaling $1.6 trillion December 19 that will avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through October 1, 2020. Some health care-related provisions in the spending package expire May 22, 2020, setting up a busy spring agenda for Congress, as legislators will need to further reauthorize those programs while also tackling other top priority issues that were not addressed in 2019. Specifically, Congress has yet to address prescription drug pricing and surprise billing legislation. The President is expected to sign the spending bills this week.

For more information on federal appropriations, contact Amelia Suermann, American College of Surgeons Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Firearms Research Funding Included in Final Spending Package

Under the spending package that Congress passed December 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health each will receive $12.5 million to study firearm injury and prevention—the first time in more than 20 years that funding has been allocated specifically to firearm violence research.

This historic victory follows a calculated advocacy agenda created and led by surgeon advocates and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Advocacy and Health Policy. The diligent work of the ACS Committee on Trauma Firearm Strategy Team (FAST) Workgroup, testimony that the ACS provided before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, coalition letters of support, and individual outreach by surgeon advocates all contributed to seeing this trauma priority cross the finish line.

The ACS maintains that a nonpartisan public health research agenda to address firearm safety should examine issues such as safe storage and safe use, violence intervention and control, serious mental illness and firearm violence, and improved treatment of patients injured by firearms.

For more information on firearm injury prevention legislation, contact Hannah Chargin, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org.

ACS Participates in Bipartisan Congressional Roundtable on Veterans' Health Care

Patrick V. Bailey, MD, MLS, FACS, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Medical Director for Advocacy, participated in a December 12 bipartisan congressional roundtable on the implementation of the VA MISSION Act and its impact on veterans' health care. The central goal of the Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (VA MISSION) Act of 2018 is to provide veterans with the opportunity to seek health care services within their local community when appropriate. Reps. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Neal Dunn, MD, FACS (R-FL), facilitated the dialogue with members of the health care community to gauge how to best ensure a smooth roll out.

For questions about the roundtable or on legislative policy related to veterans' health care, contact Carrie Zlatos, Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

21st Century Cures Makes a Comeback

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted comments December 16 in response to a request for feedback from Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) on their outline of Cures 2.0 legislation. Cures 2.0 would build upon the advances in cancer screening and regenerative medicine made possible through the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016. The College's letter outlines the organization's vision for a patient-centric health care model that is supported by team-based care, rooted in a culture of continuous quality improvement, and achieved through advances in digital technology and a standard data infrastructure.

The original 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law in December 2016 and has already contributed to great advancements in the area of cancer screening and regenerative medicine. Cures 2.0 is a renewed effort to continue this progress with a focus on digital health information technology and data analytics to empower patients to improve their health care.

The ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy and its partners in the physician community will continue to provide feedback as Cures 2.0 moves through the legislative process.

For more information on this issue, contact Hannah Chargin, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org

Deadline to Participate in ACS SSR MIPS 2019 Extended to January 8, 2020

Surgeon Specific RegistryThe 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 8, 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 is supporting the Quality and Improvement Activities (IA) components of MIPS 2019, and CMS considers submitting MIPS data 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).