Capitol Hill Report

Read the Academy's bi-weekly update on legislative and regulatory advocacy for neurology. 

Breaking News from Washington, DC

Federal Government Reopens After Three Day Shutdown

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AAN Scores qpp win before government shutdown, CHIP Reauthorization

January 22, 2018

AAN Notches Victory for Members as CMS Simplifies QPP Submission Process

  • On January 2, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that doctors and other eligible clinicians participating in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) can begin submitting their 2017 performance data using a new system on the Quality Payment Program website. The data submission system is an improvement from the former systems under the CMS legacy programs, which required clinicians to submit data on multiple websites.
  • In a victory for our members, the AAN’s feedback to CMS specifically advised the agency to make this change. CMS listened to our concerns and now eligible clinicians will use the new system to submit their 2017 performance data for the QPP during the 2017 submission period which runs from January 2, 2018, to March 31, 2018, except for groups using the CMS Web Interface whose submission period is January 22, 2018, to March 16, 2018.
  • Eligible clinicians will be required to log into the system. After logging in, the system will connect each eligible clinician to the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) associated with their National Provider Identifier (NPI). Eligible clinicians will report data either as an individual or a group. Please note that if you’re participating in a MIPS APM or an Advanced APM, work with your APM Entity to discuss any special considerations regarding your submission and performance feedback.

Congress Shuts Down Government, Reauthorizes CHIP

  • AAN members from all over the country responded to an action alert last week urging members of Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), pass a FY2018 budget, and raise the spending caps so that valuable government programs would avoid funding cuts.
  • On Thursday, January 18, the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the government until February 16 and to fund CHIP for six years. The Senate failed to pass the bill without a solution for immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
  • On Friday, January 19, the continuing resolution expired after the Senate failed to come to agreement, shutting down all “non-essential” federal government operations. Read more about further implications for neurology.
  • After three days of a government shutdown, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution to extend current government funding levels until February 8. The legislation also includes a six-year reauthorization of CHIP, achieving an important advocacy win for the AAN. The AAN has been advocating for a long-term reauthorization of CHIP since its expiration in September to ensure access to care for children with neurologic conditions.  

 MedPAC Considers Physician Payment Recommendations

  • The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is a nonpartisan legislative agency that provides Congress with analysis and policy advice on the Medicare program.
  • For several years, MedPAC commissioners have promoted policies to improve Medicare payments for primary care physicians.
  • In 2011, the AAN convened the Cognitive Specialty Coalition to educate lawmakers and key thought leaders, like MedPAC, about how neurology and other cognitive specialties like rheumatology and endocrinology face similar challenges as primary care due to their heavy reliance on E/M services, rather than procedures.
  • MedPAC is currently considering further proposals to incentivize primary care and is expected to make recommendation in June 2018. Recognizing the need to again raise the concerns of cognitive specialists, AAN staff publicly addressed MedPAC last week on behalf of the Cognitive Specialty Coalition. AAN Sr. Legislative Counsel Mike Amery shared the unique concerns and perspective of cognitive specialties. Read his remarks on page 92 of the transcript.
  • The AAN will continue to advocate to government agencies like MedPAC as well as Congress that cognitive specialties must be included in any future incentive for primary care.

 State Advocacy Success in Pennsylvania 

  • In Pennsylvania, providers are required to log into the state drug monitoring program when implementing a new DEA scheduled medication for a patient including anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) that are Schedule V, meaning they have low potential for abuse.
  • Brad Klein, MD, MBA, FAAN, and the Pennsylvania Neurological Society successfully advocated for a bipartisan amendment that would exclude most Schedule V AEDs from the drug monitoring program, reducing significant administrative burden for neurologists caring for seizure patients. The bill, PA SB 728, was signed into law on December 22. 


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