AAN Continues Efforts on SGR Reform

December 21, 2011


Catherine M. Rydell

AAN Leadership Update

Catherine M. Rydell, Executive Director & CEO
December 2011


  • Without congressional intervention, the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula is scheduled to cut physician payments by 27.4 percent on January 1, 2012. Discussions about potential solutions are rampant on Capitol Hill, focusing on approving a one- or two-year patch. Fixing the SGR is considered a “must pass” piece of legislation prior to the end of the year, but the stumbling block is finding money to pay for the cost, which is estimated to be $21 billion for one year and $38 billion for two years.
  • Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) has drafted a proposal to fundamentally alter physician payments that, if enacted, would lead to the average primary care physician earning approximately 18 percent more than neurologists when billing for the same E/M services. The AAN has strongly urged for a change in this provision and sent a letter co-signed by four other organizations representing a total of 55,000 members. More broadly, the proposal eliminates all future payment cuts to physicians called for by the Medicare SGR formula, and would, after four years, transition away from fee-for-service to new innovative care models.


  • A new version of the AAN's online self-assessment examination will launch this month for medical students interesting in assessing their knowledge of neurology while helping them prepare for the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Shelf Exam. NeuroSAE™: Medical Student Edition offers 100 high-yield NBME-style questions about diagnosis and management of the most common neurologic symptoms and disorders, incorporating interpretation of neurologic examination findings and diagnostic testing. NeuroSAE: Medical Student Edition is offered to AAN Medical Student members for only $25, compared to $50 for nonmember students and Junior members.
  • Two new modules of NeuroPISM, the AAN's online performance improvement program, will launch in December. The two modules are Falls (Patient Safety) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Medical Economics

  • The 2011 Practice Management Webinar series wrapped up November 8 with a total of 848 participants throughout the year (an increase from 405 in 2010), including 751 members. This included seven paid and one free webinar in 2011 (an increase from six paid and one free in 2010). The 2012 series will kick off on January 10 with a free webinar, “Decoding the 2012 Medicare Fee Schedule: Changes that Impact Neurology.”
  • The Payment Policy Subcommittee continues to strengthen its relationships with several national private payers. To date, the AAN has had 38 policy review requests from five insurers in 2011. The AAN also released the Insurer Relations Toolkit in early 2011 to guide neurologists and office administrators in the proper development and maintenance of mutually rewarding relationships with private insurance companies.
  • Neurologists will be impacted by changes in 2012 CPT codes, specifically electromyography when performed on the same date of service as nerve conduction studies. The AAN has drafted coding guidance to assist neurologists with these changes to ensure proper reimbursement. Additional changes of importance to neurologists are the revised definitions of New and Established Patient in the E/M Guidelines. The changes allow for broader reporting of new patient visit codes.

Clinical Practice

  • The evidence-based guideline “Update: Treatment of Essential Tremor” was published in the Neurology® journal electronically ahead of print on October 19, 2011, and in print on November 8, 2011. A clinical summary, patient summary, clinical case example, and slide presentation were produced, and a press release was issued. The International Essential Tremor Foundation endorsed this guideline; several professional medical societies participated in dissemination.
  • The evidence-based guideline “Clinical Evaluation and Treatment of Transverse Myelitis,” which has been endorsed by the Consortium of MS Centers, was published in the Neurology® journal electronically ahead of print on December 7, 2011, and in print on December 13, 2011. The evidence-based guideline “Antiepileptic Drug Selection for People with HIV/AIDS” will be published simultaneously in Neurology and Epilepsia electronically ahead of print on January 4, 2012, and in print on January 10, 2012. A clinical summary, patient summary, clinical case example, and slide presentation will be produced for both guidelines; and a press release will be issued for the latter guideline.


  • Webinars from Neurology Career Week are now available as free downloads through the Neurology Career Center. Topics include employment contracts, transitioning to a work visa, malpractice and liability issues, and stipend programs.

Annual Meeting

  • 2012 Annual Meeting directors and faculty may begin uploading their slides and syllabi.
  • Topic chairs will finish making preliminary abstract assignments in mid-December. The acceptance for abstracts will be between 85 percent and 90 percent for the 2012 Annual Meeting.
  • A new itinerary planner is part of the redesigned Annual Meeting online registration system. The new system lets you search for your favorite programs; continuously build, view, or modify your itinerary (including personal meetings and social events); and quickly see all of the FREE programs and events included with registration.


  • The Emerging Science program, formerly known as Late-breaking Science, is now open for submission of abstracts. Key aspects of the research must have been conducted after October 24, 2011. Abstracts will be accepted until February 7, 2012.
  • The Frontiers in Translational Neuroscience Plenary Session speakers for the 2012 Annual Meeting are: Timothy F. Cloughesy, MD; Reisa A. Sperling, MD; Michael J. Zigmond, PhD; and Christopher P. Austin, MD.
  • Scientific award committees are currently reviewing applications for 2012 scientific awards. Winners will be notified in late January.


  • The December/January issue of Neurology Now® features an exclusive story with Michael J. Fox. Actor Fox is calling on people with Parkinson's and those without the disease to join Fox Trial Finder, a new web tool that connects volunteers with clinical trials that need participants for the testing of new drugs and other treatments. The issue also includes articles on continuing to work after a dementia diagnosis, the effects of alcohol on the teenage brain, and tinnitus.
  • The December issue of Continuum: Lifelong Learning in Neurology®, guest edited by Bruce I. Ovbiagele, MD, MSc, FAAN, covers the topic Secondary Stroke Prevention. Access the issue online.
  • The debut issue of Neurology's spin-off journal, Neurology® Clinical Practice, will publish on December 13. Neurology: Clinical Practice provides a resource for practicing neurologists focusing on the day-to-day needs of their patients and practice. Neurology trade publications and patient groups are being contacted as part of a PR campaign to increase awareness about the new journal.

Public Outreach

  • Comedian Josh Blue is the latest celebrity to help the AAN Foundation in its fight to cure brain disease—this time with a video public service announcement (PSA) Blue recorded to raise awareness about cerebral palsy and the need for research. The PSA will be available after it launches on December 15.
  • The Foundation has submitted a proclamation request to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to declare the week of April 21, 2012, as Brain Health Awareness Week in the State of Louisiana as part of the Foundation's campaign to promote its Brain Health Fair, Saturday, April 21, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. To date, more than 10 exhibitors and sponsors have signed on to participate in the event.


  • As of October 31, 2011, 2,447 gifts, pledges, grants, and sponsorships totaling $3,524,589 have been invested toward the goal of $4 million to support young investigators, education, improved patient care, public awareness, and operations. In addition, extensive year-end appeals for these meaningful endeavors are launching. The total includes these generous commitments:
    • 51 Champion Circle members' gifts (annual gifts of $1000 +) of almost $200,000.
    • Three Heritage Society members' gifts of almost $400,000 plus an additional planned gift.
    • Corporate Roundtable dues of $600,000.
    • 122 corporate grants and sponsorships totaling $2,110,545.