AANEM hosted its third annual “Day on Capitol Hill” in Washington D.C. on May 23. AANEM Health Policy Director Millie Suk, JD, MPP, and AANEM’s Washington representatives from the Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington (HMCW) led sixteen members of AANEM’s State Liaison program to meetings with their respective legislators and legislative staff. The group met with over 50 congressional offices.
Advocates worked to raise awareness of the strain put on physicians practicing electrodiagnostic (EDX) medicine following deep reimbursement cuts to nerve conduction studies (NCS) and needle electromyography (EMG) implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for 2013. The primary issue featured during meetings with congressional offices was the ongoing lack of interest at CMS to work on measures to ensure quality in EDX patient care and to acknowledge that reimbursement cuts had not dissuaded the fraud and abuse driving increased utilization of EMG and NCS codes.
Congress is currently focused on issues of cost, quality, and outcomes in the U.S. healthcare system and this specific example of federal healthcare dollars continuing to pay for EDX testing of little value to patient care had traction with many offices. Congressional meetings also occurred at a time when CMS has been increasingly criticized for putting cost savings ahead of patient care following the proposal of a comprehensive Medicare Part B Demonstration project that may jeopardize patient access to life-sustaining therapies. The ongoing frustration of the EDX physician community resonated with many congressional staff.
“The congressional visits were a great success. The legislative staff seemed very receptive to our message and supportive of our efforts,” said Suk. “Most of the offices were interested in joining the effort in one form or another. Some of the offices offered to personally reach out to our contacts at CMS and urge them to work with us on a solution.” The liaisons will follow up with the legislative offices over the next week.
There is growing interest on both sides of the aisle in the Senate to send a sign on letter to CMS that asks for accountability on fraud, abuse, and access issues in EDX medicine. Such a letter would also ask CMS to work with the patient and professional communities on steps and standards that ensure quality in EDX medicine. Many members of the House of Representatives also expressed interest in sending correspondence to CMS or reaching out to the agency directly to inquire on opportunities to move forward.
If you are interested in getting involved in any of AANEM’s advocacy efforts or just want to learn more, contact the AANEM policy department at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Visit the action center on our website to learn more about how to set up a visit and talk with your legislators: http://www.aanem.org/getmedia/9e97838e-38a8-4c2e-b1e9-1bf19e7e33af/AANEM-Guide-to-Legislative-Advocacy.pdf