Capitol Hill Report: Advocacy More Than Just Federal Issues

September 3, 2010

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By Mike Amery, Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs, (202) 506-7468, mamery@aan.com

With things in Washington, DC moving at a slow pace due to a congressional recess throughout August and some of September, I thought this would be a good time talk about a few important subjects outside of my duties on Capitol Hill.

For these I will be turning Capitol Hill Report over this week to three Academy’s staff members: Amanda Becker, who will talk about what the Academy is doing regarding consult codes. Dave Showers who will briefly talk about State Societies and Tim Miller who will discuss state legislative issues:

AAN Continues to Work on Consult Codes

By Amanda Becker, Associate Director, Medical Economics

The Academy continues its advocacy with the American Medical Association (AMA) and other specialties to address the problems with loss of consults, as the May 2010 survey results clearly reflect the difficulties faced by neurologists. One of the solutions we’ve discussed addresses the ability of a physician to bill a new patient visit when someone from another subspecialty has seen the patient within three years. We recognize that there can be complications in determining how Medicare would recognize the different subspecialties. We’re pursuing this solution through CPT coding language and direct advocacy with CMS.

The AAN and the AMA explained problems with the elimination of payment for consultation codes in their comment letters on the proposed 2011 Medicare physician fee schedule. The organizations ask CMS to reverse its policy, and in the absence of that, to address problems related to a new patient visit and prolonged services.

For more information you can contact me at abecker@aan.com.

State Society Leadership Roundtable a Success

By Dave Showers, Senior Administrator, State Society Relations

The fifth annual State Society Leadership Roundtable was held August 21 through 22 in Minneapolis, with 25 leaders representing 23 state neurosocieties. The majority of the program allowed the leaders to discuss successes and challenges facing their societies, as well as how the AAN can collaborate with and expand support to neurosocieties. Other topics discussed included the State Society Task Force, AAN state and federal advocacy efforts, maintaining a nonprofit organization, and membership recruitment and retention.

During the two-day meeting, each leader created an action plan to set goals to add value to their society or overcome challenges facing their state. Action plans consisted of an issue, objective, tactics, and success measures. AAN staff will be working with the leaders to help accomplish these goals throughout the next year.

There are numerous state society meetings to attend this fall. Visit the calendar to see if there is a meeting in or around your state. These meetings offer many opportunities for CME, networking, and advocacy efforts to make an impact on neurology in your state. Bring your questions, as you will likely find an AAN staff member in attendance. To learn more about the AAN support of state neurosocieties, email me at dshowers@aan.com or visit www.aan.com/stateresources.

The Academy is Your State Legislative Resource

By Tim Miller, Health Policy Analyst

While the Academy spends a lot of time and effort in Washington DC, looking out for members, many may not realize the Academy also works with members on the state legislative level. Tracked issues, which are determined by the Government Relations Committee, include anti-epileptic drug bills (AED), scope-of-practice, stroke, mandatory reporting, medical liability issues, neuroimaging, artificial hydration and nutrition, and pay-for-performance. Each of these issues has its own page in the issues section of aan.com.

Regarding the outlook on state issues, most state legislatures will continue to focus on budget deficits in 2011, as gap totals across the country amount to approximately $82 billion! Add to the fact that there are 37 gubernatorial elections across the country this fall (with 23 states guaranteed to elect a new governor), many states will have their hands full.

Despite budget woes, there were some some successes in 2010. Maine and Idaho passed significant AED legislation, Utah passed a bill that limits non-economic damages in medical cases, and Connecticut passed a bill that gives the physician immunity when voluntarily reporting patient concerns to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Academy expects 2011 to be a busy year and encourages members to contact us if they hear neurology related issues in their state legislature. As always, if we can be of service to your state legislative advocacy efforts, don’t hesitate to contact me at tmiller@aan.com.