On the Agenda This Year ASCA’s Government Affairs team begins work with the 114th BY HEATHER FALEN ASHBY


he November 2014 midterm elec- tions gave leadership of the US Senate and an increased majority in the House of Representatives to Republi- cans. As a result, when the 114th


gress convenes early this month, there will be many changes that will impact ASCA’s advocacy strategy for this year. Most notable among these changes is the Republican majority in the Senate, putting Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his colleagues in charge of the leg- islative agenda there. The work of the US Senate Committee on Finance and the US Health, Education, Labor & Pen- sions (HELP) Committee, which have authority over Medicare and other health care policy, is now led by Republicans. ASCs are well-poised on these com- mittees as some of the strongest sup- porters of ASCs return to office. Sena- tors Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are all cosponsors of the ASC Quality & Access Act of 2013 and will retain their membership on these two key committees. The largest Republican majority in decades is now in charge of the House of Representatives, bringing changes to the size and membership of the Committee on Ways and Means and Energy & Commerce Committee. The Committee on Ways & Means, which has primary jurisdiction over Medi- care policy, has named a new chairman and added Republican members to its ranks. The Energy & Commerce Com- mittee, which oversees Medicare and other health care issues, also expanded its Republican membership. Both com- mittees have fewer Democratic mem- bers than in the previous Congress. Two dozen members of these key commit- tees are ASC supporters and sponsors of the ASC Quality and Access legislation.

22 ASC FOCUS JANUARY 2015 Member Lookup

For a list of committee members, visit the following sites:

Committee on Ways & Means: gov/about/members.htm

Energy & Commerce Committee: gov/about/membership

Senate Committee on Finance: membership/

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions:

With so many newly appointed members on both committees, however, there is much work to be done to educate them on the value of ASCs and the challenges facing the industry. The ASCA Government Affairs

department has already begun work- ing with the 114th

Congress to address

some of the greatest challenges facing ASCs, including appropriate payment updates, reducing burdensome regu- lations and expanding patient access to ASCs. Our strongest supporters in the House and Senate are drafting two ASC-specific pieces of legislation. One bill works to improve patient

access by ensuring that ASC payments accurately reflect the growing cost of providing surgical care and requiring Medicare to openly discuss the process it uses to decide which procedures can be performed in an ASC. This legisla- tion also aims to make ASC quality data more accessible to Medicare patients by posting the information on the “Medi-” web site to allow compari- sons of quality between ASCs and hos- pital outpatient departments (HOPD).

Congress The other legislation grants a tem-

porary extension of payment penal- ties for physicians who do not meet the requirement that 50 percent of all patient encounters occur in a setting that uses certified electronic health record tech- nology (CEHRT) by 2015. Physicians who perform a large percentage of their surgical procedures in an ASC face an immediate crisis in meeting these federal guidelines because there is no CEHRT for the ASC setting. This legislation pro- vides time for ASCA to continue work- ing with federal regulators and industry stakeholders to develop a CEHRT. ASCA believes that these bills are commonsense solutions to challenges that ASCs face and will work with the 114th

Congress to educate legislators

and build bipartisan support for both. To learn more about ASCA’s leg-

islative work and how you can help convince your members of Congress to support ASCs on these issues and others, visit govtadvocacy.

Heather Falen Ashby is the deputy director of government affairs at ASCA. Write her at

Track the Latest Regulatory and Legislative News for ASCs

Visit ASCA’s web site every week to stay up to date on the latest government affairs news affecting the ASC industry. Every week, ASCA’s Government Affairs Update newsletter is posted online for ASCA members to read. The weekly newsletter tracks and analyzes the latest legislative and regulatory developments concerning ASCs. GovtAffairsUpdate

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