April 18, 2019

Councillor’s Corner

Summarizing the latest advocacy and policy news

By John Corker, MD, YPS Councillor, and Ben Karfunkle, MD, YPS Alternate Councillor

With the House and Senate heading home to their districts for a two-week recess – having accomplished very little since our last update – we redirect our focus squarely on our upcoming Leadership and Advocacy Conference (LAC), May 5-8 in Washington, D.C.

If you haven’t made plans to attend LAC19 yet, here is 90 seconds of all the motivation you’ll need to understand the tremendous impact you will have by committing to this unique opportunity.

Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from experienced Capitol Hill veterans, and to meet directly with members of Congress and their most trusted staffers.

This year, we’ll be primarily focused on pushing back against predatory insurance practices and narrow networks in order to advocate for our patients to be able to choose their doctors and site of service without having to worry about bankruptcy. We will also be spending time with our elected officials discussing improvements to our emergency mental health system, so that we have the tools we need to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of the many patients we see each day who suffer from severe mental health challenges.

Prior to Congress breaking for recess, the House held its first hearing on out-of-network billing issues.Unfortunately, zero members of the physician community were invited to give testimony. While the majority of information provided was skewed toward Medicare reimbursement benchmarks and bundled payments that ACEP opposes – including one witness referring to standard physician charges as “santa wishlists” – many committee members pushed back on these flawed proposals, including Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chairman of the GOP Doctor’s Caucus. ACEP was permitted to craft questions and submit background information to committee members prior to the hearing, and we continue to work with all committees of jurisdiction on this important issue.

Furthermore, while CMS works to expand the use of Telemedicine in Medicare Advantage plans, ACEP did submit the following guiding principles for any potential telemedicine legislation to the Congressional Telehealth Caucus:

  1. Modify Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act to include emergency medical services
  2. Provide funding for telehealth research in emergency medicine
  3. Provide assistance to encourage adoption of telehealth services and ensure appropriate reimbursement for emergency telehealth
  4. Use real-world examples of successful emergency telehealth models to inform legislation and promote greater uptake.

That’s it for this month! Your YPS Executive Board can’t wait to stand shoulder to shoulder with each of you on Capitol Hill in a couple weeks, as we stand up for a better EM work environment for both our patients and colleagues. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with thoughts and questions in the meantime.