Neurologists Storm Capitol Hill

March 20, 2012


Catherine M. Rydell

AAN Leadership Update

Catherine M. Rydell, Executive Director & CEO
March 2012


  • On February 27-28, 142 AAN members from 42 states and the District of Columbia attended the 10th annual Neurology on the Hill. Participants heard from high-profile speakers such as Nancy Nielson, MD, PhD, senior advisor for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; Stuart Rothenberg, author of the Rothenberg Political Report; and Rep. Paul Broun, MD (R-GA). The next day members went to more than 215 offices on Capitol Hill and asked for protection of cognitive services as payment reforms are considered and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health.
  • Congress reached agreement to pass another 10-month fix to the sustainable growth rate formula, which delays the scheduled 27.4-percent cuts to Medicare physician pay rates until the end of the year.
  • The AAN continues to proactively track state legislation on sports concussion, medical liability reform,scope-of-practice issues, stroke, and antiepileptic drug substitution. If you have an issue in your state, contact Tim Miller.

Annual Meeting

  • March 28 is the last chance to take advantage of early registration discounts to attend the 2012 AAN Annual Meeting in New Orleans–and the deadline to secure hotel accommodations is March 21. The 2012 Abstracts Online site went live in late February. You now can search all 2,300 abstracts accepted for the Annual Meeting.
  • The speakers and schedule for the new Controversies in Neuroscience Session have been finalized. The session moderators will be Joseph Jankovic, MD, FAAN, and Walter Rocca, MD, MPH.
  • More than 6,000 votes from people across the United States were cast for the Neuro Film Festival's Fan Favorite Award. The winners of the contest will be announced at the Neuro Film Festival in New Orleans on April 22, 2012.


  • The AAN Foundation received an unrestricted $225,000 grant from Teva Pharmaceuticals for the Clinical Research Training Fellowship General Fund.
  • The speakers and discussants have been identified for the 2012 Contemporary Clinical Issues Plenary Session. The speakers are Sara Llufriu, MD; Annie Killoran, MD, MSc; Maarten Titulaer, MD, PhD; Richard Bedlack, MD, PhD, FAAN; David Foster, MD; and Maarten Lansberg, MD, PhD. The discussants include Douglas Arnold, MD; Jeffery Vance, MD, PhD; and Angela Vincent, MD, PhD.
  • A total of 15 abstracts were accepted for the 2012 Emerging Science program (formerly known as Late-breaking Science). A new format is being piloted this year, with a hybrid between a platform session and a poster session. Authors will each give short, three-minute talks accompanied by two to three slides on their abstracts; after all of the talks, authors will be available for 45 minutes by their posters in the same room. The Science Committee is piloting the format to provide opportunities for both a concise summary of the study along with the option for interaction with the author and in-depth information available on the poster.


  • Two new courses for the new online learning program NeuroLearn are scheduled to launch before the Annual Meeting. These are the first two of a scheduled 12 online courses that will be available in 2012.
  • A new NeuroPI™ module on Parkinson's disease will launch at the end of March. This is the second module on Parkinson's disease based upon the AAN measure set. NeuroPI launched one year ago with epilepsy. In its first year 358 modules have been sold and 86 percent of those completing modules rated the program "good/excellent" and 82 percent reported that NeuroPI improved their practice.
  • The AAN recently entered an agreement with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to offer a pilot program for residents and fellows at the 2012 Annual Meeting. HCA will offer a free luncheon on Monday, April 23, with a program covering "The Timeline for Transitioning into Practice: Key Steps and Target Timelines for Completion" and "Contracting 101: Key Information Before You Sign a Practice or Hospital Contract."

Medical Economics

  • AAN President Bruce Sigsbee, MD, FAAN, and Rod Larson, AAN Chief Health Policy Officer, recently met with Mark Miller, PhD, executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to make the case for better recognition of non-procedural work done by cognitive specialists. A recent physician compensation report from Jackson & Coker showed that neurologists' compensation is already falling behind that of internal medicine physicians. MedPAC is an independent agency that advises Congress on payment issues affecting the Medicare program.
  • The AAN's Payment Policy Subcommittee reviewed a draft UnitedHealthcare (UHC) medical policy decision of non-coverage for the use of occipital nerve blocks (ONB) to treat patients suffering from occipital neuralgia and cervicogenic headache. With the help of AAN experts in headache and guideline development, the AAN responded to the policy decision with a letter urging UHC to reconsider. Many other insurers cover ONB, and the available literature points to its usefulness. UHC's medical policy development committee meets in March to discuss the comments received.
  • In late February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed rules that outline Stage 2 of its program describing meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR). For Stage 2, expect most objectives to be expanded and more complicated, including: electronic prescribing, clinical quality measures, and patient communication and resources. The AAN will review the rules closely and submit comments to the agency to help ensure that neurologists are able to meet the expanded criteria manageably.

Clinical Practice

  • The guidelines "Update: Pharmacologic Treatment for Episodic Migraine Prevention in Adults" and "Update: Nonstandard Prescription Medications, NSAIDs, and Other OTC Treatments for Episodic Migraine Prevention in Adults" will be published on April 24, 2012, during the AAN Annual Meeting in New Orleans. An embargoed press briefing will be held at 10:00 a.m. CT on Monday, April 23, 2012, during which lead author, Stephen D. Silberstein, MD, FAAN, will speak. Two clinician summaries, two patient summaries, one clinical case example, and one slide set will be produced, along with a press release, matte news release, video recording of the press briefing, and radio public service announcements.
  • The National Quality Forum (NQF) has posted a call for neurologic measures; this organization is an endorsing body for quality measures. The AAN will submit measures for endorsement in the areas of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, distal symmetric polyneuropathy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The NQF is also seeking nominees to serve on the review panel for the neurologic measures; the AAN has the opportunity to submit nominations for this panel.
  • The AAN's Parkinson's disease measures have been listed on the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC) website; the AAN's epilepsy measures will be listed on the website shortly. The website is used as a resource for both measure developers and those looking to implement measures into practice.


  • A plan is underway to redesign the Neurology® website in the coming months. The AAN and the publishers, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and HighWire Press, have chosen Enforme Interactive, a Maryland C corporation, with clients throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. The company has twice won the prestigious Webby Award.
  • The AAN is finalizing production of a new series of patient brochures to be available in April. The series will consist of 14 disease-focused brochures and one additional title, "Working with Your Neurologist." David Spencer, MD, FAAN, served as the lead physician overseeing the project, and all brochures were reviewed by subspecialty experts. Brochures will be available for sale in packs of 25 through The AAN Store® beginning in April; pdfs of each brochure will be available for individual download on

Public Outreach

  • Neurology®, Neurology Today®, and Neurology Now® will be used as set dressing in "Chelsea General," a new pilot television program created in collaboration with producer David E. Kelley and CNN's Sanjay Gupta, MD.