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ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT


2017 in the Rearview ASCs and state associations join hands to defeat legislative challenges BY ALI LEGROS


In 2017, state lawmakers across the country filed more than 180,000 bills and enacted nearly 35,000 of those. Given that vol-


ume, it is not surprising that the ASC community found itself objecting to several legislative proposals during the 2017 legislative session. As states con- tinue to look to new ways to increase revenue and close large budget deficits, policy analysts expect many of those same issues to reemerge in 2018.


2017 To achieve desperately needed sav- ings in 2017, several states, once again, contemplated reducing and reforming their states workers’ com- pensation fee schedules.


Illinois


During the 2017 legislative session, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) proposed fee schedule cuts deeper than the 30 percent cuts that the industry saw in that state in 2011. One of the several workers’ compensation reform proposals considered by the state leg- islature would have tied the workers’ compensation reimbursement rate to the federal Medicare reimbursement rate. If enacted, this proposal would have drastically reduced medical pro- vider payments and had a devastating impact on the ability of injured workers to find site-appropriate care to quickly address their injury and return to work. To halt these proposals, the ASC community revitalized the Illinois State ASC Association and worked to pro- tect workers’ access to the high-qual- ity care that ASCs provide. In addition, the new state association joined forces with some of Illinois’s strongest patient and provider advocates, including the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois AFL-CIO and the Illinois State Medi-


cal Society, to help strengthen its mes- sage. Illinois ASCs utilized direct lob- bying, letters to the editors, phone calls and facility tours to elevate their mes- sage and position within the state. Ulti- mately, that persistence paid off with Speaker Michael Madigan (D) refusing to call the proposals to the House floor.


Florida


Florida also saw a workers’ compen- sation issue arise in 2017. House Bill 7085: Workers’ Compensation was introduced and, if enacted, would have restructured Florida’s workers’ compensation system to tie provider payments to a Medicare-based sys- tem. The Florida Society of Ambu- latory Surgery Centers opposed this bill, along with its Senate companion, Senate Bill 1582, and through the use of its targeted grassroots efforts was able to defeat the measure.


Looking Ahead State associations and ASCs in each state took swift and decisive action to defeat many legislative challenges in 2017, ranging from workers’ compen- sation reforms and provider tax pro- posals to increased licensing fees and burdensome reporting requirements. ASCs can expect many of these same issues to resurface. However, the com- ing year will differ from 2017 in two significant ways: several state legisla- tures will not meet in 2018 and many


of the states that will meet will have short legislative sessions. In 2017, state ASC associations quickly iden- tified the legislative challenges they faced, notified their members and engaged them in effective grassroots campaigns. ASCs mobilized and tar- geted their political and legislative champions to defeat potentially costly legislation. By joining your state asso- ciation, you strengthen your voice in support of the ASC industry. One of the best ways to engage your elected representatives is to host a facility tour. Present your elected officials with an inside and insightful view of how an ASC operates, the peo- ple that make it successful, the patients you treat and, most importantly, the impact legislative proposals have on your ability to provide care. Legisla- tors will take what they learn at your facility and bring that back with them to the Capitol. They will become your advocate and help you defeat future threats to the ASC industry.


ASCA will continue to monitor


legislation in all 50 states and provide information, strategic counsel and assis- tance. For information on your state and state legislature, please write Ali Legros at alegros@ascassociation.org.


Ali Legros is ASCA’s assistant director of government affairs, state affairs. Write her at alegros@ascassociation.org.


ASC FOCUS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017|www.ascfocus.org 23


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