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and worked with ASCA’s legislative staff to draft the Electronic Health Fair- ness Act of 2015. The act would exempt patient


encounters performed in an


ASC from being counted toward mean- ingful use requirements tied to EHRs until such time as CEHRT exists for the ASC setting. Additionally, since certi- fication standards have not been devel- oped for ASCs yet, this legislation also would authorize the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to certify an EHR system for ASCs.


Introduction of the Bipartisan Bill When the legislation was drafted, Black recruited Representative David Scott (D-GA), another ASC supporter, to introduce the bill as her partner in Feb- ruary 2015. While they began reaching out to their House colleagues to create awareness on this issue, ASCA’s cham- pions in Georgia and Colorado contacted US Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and convinced them to introduce the same bill in the Senate with the same title in May 2015.


The First Test: Committee Consideration Before a bill is voted on in the full House and Senate, it is referred to specific con- gressional committees whose members focus on particular issue areas such as health care. In this case, the legislation was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Energy and Com- merce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. All three of these committees oversee legislation that addresses Medi- care policy and health care issues. As the Ways and Means and


Senate Finance Committees evaluated the legislation, ASCA’s grasstops advocates—members with personal relationships with elected officials— contacted their representatives and senators to bolster support. Both the House and Senate considered the legislation and recommended that the full House and Senate take a vote.


Source: WorldVision


Showtime: The EHR Fairness Act Goes Up for Votes After legislation is passed out of com- mittee, the leadership in the House and Senate decide which, when and how bills are scheduled for a vote. They can com- bine bills into multiple pieces of legis- lation (called packages), force a debate on bills and give other members of Con- gress the opportunity to amend a bill. In the case of the EHR Fairness Act,


the two chambers handled the legisla- tion differently. In the House, the lead- ership decided to combine the act with two other health care-related bills. As soon as the package came together, ASCA mobilized its members through the association’s online action center to send email letters to every US rep- resentative encouraging them to vote in favor of the act. ASCA also coordi- nated with state associations to build support and momentum for the bill. The House scheduled the vote on the packaged legislation for June 13, 2015. ASCA’s grassroots again played a role


on the day of the vote when 60 ASC advocates who were in Washington, DC, to participate in ASCA’s Capitol Fly-In that day told their US represen- tatives in person to vote for the bill. A couple of months later, the Senate also scheduled a vote on the EHR Fairness Act. ASCA once again activated its grassroots network and worked with state associations to generate momentum and write letters pressing all senators to vote for passage of the bill. On August 5, 2015, the full Senate passed the EHR Fairness Act as a stand-alone bill. The importance of ASCA’s grassroots


program—including the constituents’ email letters and the office visits made during the Capitol Fly-In—to the pro- cess of passing this legislation cannot be overstated. For elected officials who may not be familiar with the ASC industry or the nuances of every issue on which they have to vote, an influx of support and personal requests from the people who keep them in office often makes the dif- ference between a “yea” or “nay” vote.


ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2016 11


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