Debt Reduction May Affect Medicare Payments

August 11, 2011


Catherine M. Rydell

AAN Leadership Update

Catherine M. Rydell, Executive Director & CEO
August 2011


  • Congress recently approved the Budget Control Act of 2011, which authorized the president to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and enacted 10-year discretionary spending caps that will generate $915 billion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. If a newly authorized Congressional committee fails to propose or pass an additional deficit reduction plan by the end of 2011, $1.2 trillion will automatically be cut from federal programs across the board, including Medicare provider payments. This would be in addition to the looming 29.5 percent reimbursement cut on January 1, 2012, required by the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
  • In coordination with the American College of Sports Medicine, the AAN will represent the National Youth Sports Concussion Coalition at the National Conference of State Legislatures Summit in San Antonio August 9-11 to promote the adoption of state legislation to reduce youth sports concussion. Two-time World Boxing Champion Jesse James Leija will participate in a press conference on behalf of the coalition. State legislators from across the country are expected to attend.
  • The North Carolina legislature recently overturned a gubernatorial veto of an important liability reform bill passed earlier in its legislative session, bringing the total number of states passing significant tort reform laws to seven. The new law caps non-economic damages at $500,000, requires plaintiffs to obtain a qualified expert opinion of deviation from standard of care before a malpractice suit is filed, and improves efficiency in cases where the jury finds no liability. While this is a positive step forward, the North Carolina Medical Society has warned there will likely be several legal challenges to the law and that long-term support will be needed.

Executive Administration

  • A White House official toured the AAN headquarters under construction in Minneapolis this week. Frank P. DiGiammarino III, Director for Recovery Implementation, is touring buildings across the nation that have benefited from bonds funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


  • The AAN launched its second NeuroPI℠ moduleParkinson's Disease—on July 11 based on Academy-developed measures. The web page features a new "coming soon" tab so members can anticipate which module will best fit their practice.
  • The AAN developed and launched its fourth version of NeuroSAE®, the AAN online self-assessment in neurology program, on July 15. It is the first of the ABPN-approved series to offer CME. NeuroSAE is now accessible via for members to offer additional convenience.
  • The AAN is offering a new education research grant to evaluate AAN education programs. The program offers financial support to evaluate an AAN education program at the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. One $11,500 grant will be awarded based on the proposal and merits of the project. The goal for the grant is to better understand if AAN CME is having a sustained impact on learners. The deadline to apply online is October 3, 2011.

Medical Economics

  • The AAN is closely reviewing and will provide written comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its proposed 2012 Physician Fee Schedule by the August 30 comment deadline. The AAN will support the CMS proposal to modify the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) by adding AAN-developed measures for several neurologic diseases including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, dementia, and sleep apnea. The addition of these measures will make it easier for neurologists to participate in the PQRS program.
  • The AAN worked with four other specialties to submit proposed Current Procedural Terminology® (CPT) coding revisions to the EMG and nerve conduction codes following a mandate to do so by CMS.
  • The AAN is pleased that CMS has responded to concerns from AAN members and is offering flexibility in its Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program. The AAN has expressed its support of a proposed rule CMS released on May 26 that adds options for eligible neurologists to request an exemption for the 2012 eRx payment adjustment (based on reporting from January 1, 2011, to June 30, 2011) and harmonizes the electronic health record (EHR) and eRx incentive programs.


  • In an effort to facilitate voluntary contributions by US members to BrainPAC, a check box has been added to the 2012 dues invoice. Members are now able to pay dues, contribute to BrainPAC and/or the AAN Foundation, and purchase Continuum® subscriptions all with one transaction via the website or printed invoices.
  • A valuable new resource is now available in The AAN Store®. The Ultimate Review for the Neurology Boards Q & A is a companion piece to the Ultimate Review for the Neurology Board book. Both resources are useful for members preparing to take the boards for the first time or prepping for recertification.
  • A new Neurology Career Center service debuted in July: the Recruitment Concierge Service. For a fee, employers receive a professionally written ad. The concierge places the ad, fields any inquiries, and evaluates potential candidates. The service is ideal for smaller practices that may lack recruiting resources.

Clinical Practice

  • As of the end of June, 744 AAN members have registered for electronic FDA alerts through the Health Care Notification Network. These messages appear to have high value to members as 98 percent of the messages have been opened.
  • The Multiple Sclerosis Emerging Therapies Collaborative will release clinician and patient information sheets on the drug dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate (Nuedexta) this month. Information sheets on other drug therapies will be issued as the drugs become available and gain Food and Drug Administration approval.

Annual Meeting

  • The Specialists in Focus tracks have been expanded from four to six offerings based on the popularity of the intensive programming in specialty/subspecialty areas.
  • To allow attendees more time for networking with colleagues, Annual Meeting programming will again conclude by 6:00 p.m. each evening at the 2012 Annual Meeting, with the exception of Case Studies programs, which will be offered Thursday evening.


  • WriteClick, Neurology's rapid online correspondence section, will launch in mid-August. WriteClick, which will replace Neurology's current correspondence section and will be edited by Robert C. Griggs, MD, FAAN, will appear on the home page of Neurology®. All members are invited to add to the online discussions regarding Neurology articles.
  • For those who would like to access the full journal on a mobile platform (iPhone, Android, etc.), a mobile web version of Neurology will be ready in August. Currently, a mobile version for accessing and completing CME exams is available.
  • In July, Neurology incorporated QR codes that can be read by mobile phones in all articles, with links to supplemental data such as videos, podcasts, and CME exams.

Public Outreach

  • The call for entries for the 2012 Neuro Film Festival begins August 29, 2011. Members will be asked to encourage their patients to submit their stories in support of research. In 2011, more than 100 videos were submitted and more than 100,000 votes cast.


  • Total Development production as of June 30, 2011, from 1,726 grants/gift/dues from individuals and Annual Meeting sponsorships was $2,670,463. This also includes future planned gifts estimated at $79,000 and contributions from members from dues check-off totaling $33,242.