On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (L-HHS) Appropriations Bill. In response to continued advocacy efforts by AANEM, the bill contains report language indicating the U.S. House’s ongoing interest in ensuring patient access to quality EDX medicine:
Electrodiagnostic (EDX) Patient Care.—The Committee thanks CMS for providing additional guidance on actions taken in response to the recommendations in the 2014 OIG Report: Questionable Billing for Medicare Electrodiagnostic Tests. The Committee notes that utilization of the codes for EDX testing continue to increase and that identified efforts to curb rampant fraud and abuse are exclusively focused on physicians with high utilization rates, and do not capture the full scope of the problem. The Committee remains interested in comprehensive solutions from CMS that advance quality care and cost savings by ensuring patients do not receive inadequate or unnecessary EDX tests.
The inclusion of this report language in a very important piece of legislation demonstrates to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that Congress is taking AANEM’s concerns about fraud, abuse, and quality EDX medicine very seriously and that they, along with the AANEM, do not feel that CMS has adequately addressed the situation. AANEM met with members of the CMS leadership at the end of June and are hopeful that that meeting, along with this report language, will result in an ongoing dialogue and working relationship to address many of the issues AANEM members face with Medicare.
In addition to the EDX report language, the bill and accompanying committee report reject many of the drastic funding cuts proposed in the administration’s FY2018 budget request. Specifically, the bill provides an increase of $1.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) rather than a $7 billion cut proposed by the administration and includes categorical funding increases for a few areas of specific interest to AANEM members: an increase of $26.36 million for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and an increase of $8.66 million for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS – the AANEM is a member of the NIAMS coalition). The bill also includes funding increases to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), including $745 million for Healthcare Fraud and Abuse at CMS (an increase of $20 million over FY 2017).