SGO Issues Feb. 20, 2014


SGO Issues February 20, 2014

Progress on repealing and replacing SGR
GAO reports number of drug shortages remains high
Annual Meeting coding course applies to more specialties
SGO praises CVS for halting tobacco sales
Gynecologic Oncology February 2014
Important deadlines and reminders

Progress on repealing and replacing SGR

This legislation is the culmination of bills passed in 2013 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee. A summary of the legislation is attached.

Some of the provisions in the legislation that the SGO was working to have included in this final legislative package:

  • The SGR would be repealed immediately.
  • Positive annual payment updates of 0.5 percent would be provided for five years.
  • The Value Based Payment program from the Finance/Ways and Means version has been replaced with a similar Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or MIPS, which includes prospectively set performance thresholds and offers flexibility in the imposition of performance requirements that are inappropriate for some specialties.
  • The effective date of the MIPS program would be one year later than the original VBP proposal, and will start in 2018.
  • Funding for technical assistance to small practices of 15 or fewer professionals was doubled to $40 million for five years.
  • $75 million over five years for assistance to medical societies and others for measure development was retained in the final version

A comparison grid of the various pieces of legislation that were meld together can be found here.

Surgical coalition sent letter of support to committee chairmen on SGR legislation

The SGO joined with ACOG, ACS and 14 of the other surgical societies to express support for H.R. 4015 and S. 2000 and to commend their leadership and commitment to permanently repeal the SGR and reform the Medicare physician payment system.

SGO to begin grassroots push for action on SGR repeal and Medicare reform legislation

Over the next few weeks, the SGO Government Relations and Communications Committees will be sending out information to the entire SGO membership urging each SGO member to contact their Members of Congress and enroll their patients in the American Medical Association’s Patient’s Coalition to Support Medicare payment reform for physicians.

SGO members who are ready to get involved now can use this toll-free grassroots hotline: (800) 833-6354 to call their U.S. Representatives and Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 4015/S. 2000.
Members are encouraged to tell their elected officials: “We can’t allow Congress to stall on this landmark legislation. The current deadline for Congress to prevent the SGR from taking effect is March 31, and if nothing is done physician payments will be slashed 24 percent. Another patch is NOT the answer, but H.R. 4015/S.2000 is.”

GAO reports number of drug shortages remains high

On Feb. 10 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that although new drug shortages declined in 2012, the total number of shortages active during a given year—including both new shortages reported and ongoing shortages that began in a prior year—has increased since 2007.

The full GAO report found that generic sterile injectable drugs accounted for many of the drug shortages. A GAO analysis of data from the University of Utah Drug Information Service and Truven Health Analytics (Red Book) reported from June 2011 through June 2013 found that 44 percent of the 219 critical shortages involved generic sterile injectable drugs. Provider association representatives reported that drug shortages may force providers to ration care or rely on less effective drugs.

“The immediate cause of drug shortages can generally be traced to a manufacturer halting or slowing production to address quality problems, triggering a supply disruption. Other manufacturers have a limited ability to respond to supply disruptions due to constrained manufacturing capacity,” the report stated. “GAO’s analysis of data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also showed that quality problems were a frequent cause. GAO also identified potential underlying causes specific to the economics of the generic sterile injectable drug market, such as that low profit margins have limited infrastructure investments or led some manufacturers to exit the market.”

The GAO’s official recommendation to alleviate the drug shortages is that “FDA should strengthen its internal controls over its drug shortage data and conduct periodic analyses to routinely and systematically assess drug shortage information, using this information to proactively identify drug shortage risk factors. HHS agreed with GAO’s recommendations.”

Annual Meeting coding course applies to more specialties

The March 21 pre-conference Annual Meeting course, “Are You Ready for Coding and Documentation in 2014?” which is generally designed for medical coders and physicians, will have a broader reach this year.

Not only does the coding program meet the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) guidelines for 7.5 continuing education units (CEUs), it also can be applied for the first time to the following specialties for CEUs:

  • Core A
  • Certified Obstetrics Gynecology Coder (COBGC™)
  • Certified Hematology and Oncology Coder (CHONC™) Credential
  • Certified General Surgery Coder (CGSC™) Credential
  • Certified Evaluation and Management Coder (CEMC™) Credential

There is no cost for individuals attending the 2014 Annual Meeting. For those who want to attend the coding course only, the following fees apply:

  • SGO members: $195
  • Billing coders who work with an SGO member (coders do not have to be an SGO member): $195
  • SGO non-members: $250

Annual Meeting attendees can register for the coding course by logging back into the registration site with the username and password they established and select this event from the Friday schedule. Attendees also have the option to sign up at the registration counter during the Annual Meeting.

SGO praises CVS for halting tobacco sales

Capture CVS quits for goodLast week SGO joined several other medical associations in congratulating CVS Caremark for the company’s decision to stop selling tobacco products in its pharmacies by October 2014.

In a letter addressed to Larry J. Merlo, Chief Executive Officer of the CVS Caremark Corporation, SGO President Barbara A. Goff, MD stated:

“On behalf of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to CVS Caremark for the company’s recent decision to stop selling tobacco products in its pharmacies by October 2014. As practitioners in the subspecialty of gynecologic oncology, our Society’s members are well aware of the cancer risk factors associated with tobacco; most notably the increased risk of cervical cancer among women who smoke.

“By taking a courageous stand against the tobacco industry and placing the health of your customers above corporate profits, CVS has demonstrated a true commitment to health care in the United States. We hope that other pharmacies will follow your example by inhibiting customer access to tobacco in the hopes that cancer, heart disease and other illnesses directly related to smoking can be significantly reduced in the years to come.”

CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, and Steven A. Schroeder, MD, from the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco, discussed the decision to cease tobacco sales in an opinion piece published online Feb. 5 in JAMA.

Gynecologic Oncology February 2014

Lead Article: Outcome of unexpected adnexal neoplasia discovered during risk reduction salpingo-oophorectomy in women with germ-line BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations
Editorial: Risk reducing salpingo-oophorectomy for BRCA mutation carriers: Twenty years later

Important deadlines and reminders

SGO’s Foundation Fundraising Social
Register for the SGO Annual Meeting
Volunteer for an SGO committee
SGO open election ends Feb. 21