This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
COVER STORY


Advocacy in Action


Follow an ASC bill on its journey to becoming a law BY KRISTIN MURPHY


A


SCA and ASCs across the coun- try are on the precipice of a major


legislative victory this year: the adoption of the Electronic Health Fairness Act. In 2015, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate unanimously passed slightly different versions of the act which, if enacted, will provide relief to ASC physicians who face penalties due to Medicare’s meaningful use require- ments tied to electronic health records (EHR) systems. As this article goes to press, Congress is reconciling the two versions of the bill; the reconciled bill must be passed before it can be signed into law by President Barack Obama. “Given the divisive and often chaotic


political climate that exists in Washing- ton, DC, in recent years, developing and passing bipartisan legislation is a rare suc- cess,” says Heather Falen Ashby, ASCA’s deputy director of advocacy. The success this pro-ASC legislation has enjoyed was


10 ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2016


achieved through a strategic advocacy campaign waged by ASCA, its members and ASC champions in Congress.


The Problem Arises In 2009, Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to incentivize Medicare providers to adopt and use EHR systems. Unfortunately, ASCs were not eligible for HITECH funds to develop EHR systems, and no certified EHR technology (CEHRT) is currently available for ASC encoun- ters. Under the program, physicians had to attest by October 1, 2014, that they were “meaningful users” of an EHR by reporting that 50 percent of their Medi- care patient encounters occurred in a setting with CEHRT. Those who did not attest would be penalized with reduc- tions to their Medicare professional fees in 2015.


As the “meaningful use” program


deadlines loomed, ASCA worked with its members and industry stakehold- ers to identify potential ways to protect ASC physicians.


A Solution Emerges ASCA’s Government Affairs Committee and advocacy staff decided that legisla- tion that would exempt ASC physicians from impending Medicare penalties was a necessary step in solving the problem. The first step in ASCA’s legisla-


tive solution was to find a partner in Congress who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdic- tion over Medicare program policy. ASCA analyzed its list of champions and identified


Representative Diane


Black (R-TN), a former nurse and staunch supporter of ASCs. Next, ASCA worked with its grass-


roots activists and the Tennessee Ambu- latory Surgery Center Association to present the problem to Black and ask for her help. She immediately recog- nized the issue facing ASC physicians


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30