Legislative and Political Affairs

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AAO-HNS 2014 Federal Legislative Priorities
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House SGR


Recent Congressional Activity on Permanent Repeal of SGR Formula
In February, leaders from three Congressional committees released a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation to permanently repeal the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula and replace it with a new Medicare payment system that better incentivizes the delivery of high-quality, efficient healthcare. See below for relevant resources and updates.

*NEW*: On April 1, President Obama signed H.R. 4302, legislation providing a one-year SGR "patch." 

On March 31, the Senate voted 64-35 to pass H.R. 4302, which would provide a one-year SGR "patch." 

On March 27, the House voted by a voice vote to pass a one-year SGR "patch." Unfortunately, a "voice vote," rather than the typical "roll call vote," prevents the public from knowing each legislator's respective position on the proposal. The Senate is expected to consider the one-year delay later today.

On March 26, 2014, Congressional leaders announced their intention to move forward with a 12 month SGR patch, with votes scheduled for Thursday, March 27. The AAO-HNS and others in the physician community are opposed to yet another temporary solution to the ongoing SGR issue and sent letters to leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate urging them to focus their collective efforts on negotiating a pathway for enactment of the policy originally introduced as H.R. 4015/S. 2000.

View the surgical coalition letter opposing H.R. 4302. 

View the letter signed by more than 90 national and state medical societies opposing H.R. 4302. 

On March 14, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of H.R. 4015 by a vote of 238-181. The amendment included a delay of the ACA individual mandate to fund the SGR policy changes. This offset is not expected to be voted upon or accepted by the U.S. Senate, and the President has signaled his opposition. However, a vote on SGR repeal (including a TBD offset) has been scheduled for the week of March 24 in the U.S. Senate.

The AAO-HNS joined other surgical groups in sponsoring a full-page ad in Politico – a Capitol Hill newspaper. View the ad urging continued bipartisanship by Congressional leaders!

View the surgical coalition letter urging Congressional leaders to abandon partisan politics and work toward the development of bipartisan offsets for pending SGR repeal legislation (H.R. 4015/S.2000).

View the AAO-HNS letter to Congress in support of H.R. 4015/S. 2000.   

View the AMA-sponsored coalition letter with more than 600 physician groups (including the AAO-HNS and nearly 30 state and local OTO societies) supporting the repeal of the SGR formula. 
View letter in support of H.R. 4015/S. 2000, signed by 17 Surgical Coalition members (including the AAO-HNS).
View a section-by-section Committee analysis of the SGR repeal legislation. 

View a one-page Committee summary of the SGR repeal legislation. 


AAO-HNS Comments on SGR Repeal Proposals 
In early 2013, Congressional leaders identified repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula as a top legislative priority. Since then, Congressional committees with jurisdiction over Medicare policy have spent substantial time developing legislation that would repeal the flawed SGR formula and replace it with a new payment system that better incentivizes the delivery of high-quality, efficient healthcare. As an active participant in this process, the AAO-HNS has submitted seven comment letters highlighting the possible impact of various proposals on otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and offering suggestions for improving the legislative proposals. The AAO-HNS continues to work closely with key committees while this important effort continues to evolve. Members interested in receiving updates should bookmark this web page or follow the Government Affairs team on Twitter @AAOHNSGovtAffrs. 

On December 12, 2013, the House Ways & Means Committee unanimously (39-0) advanced an amended version of H.R. 2810. On the same day, the Senate Finance Committee passed a similar framework by a voice vote and followed their initial activity with the introduction of formal SGR-related legislative language on December 19, 2013.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee previously passed (51-0) H.R. 2810 on July 31, 2013. 
  
View our December 10, 2013 letter to the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees outlining necessary changes to SGR repeal framework. 

View our November 12, 2013 comments to the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees regarding their framework to repeal the SGR. 

View our comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee from July 11, 2013. 

View our comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee from June 10, 2013.

View our comments to the Senate Finance committee on May 29, 2013.

View our follow-up comments to the House committees from April 24, 2013.

View our initial comments to the House committees on February 26, 2013. 

Join the ENT Advocacy Network and Check Out the Academy's new I-GO program.

Get involved at the federal, state, and local level by joining the ENT Advocacy Network a free member benefit. As part of the Academy's outreach to elected officials, members are being recruited to participate in activities in their local districts (In-District Grassroots Outreach Program). Visit the Legislative Grassroots Page for more details.

The AAO-HNS Government Affairs Team has joined TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn! Follow us on these interactive forums to receive updates and discuss policies being considered on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the nation.

Audiology Legislation in the 113th Congress

AAO-HNS Supports ASHA Legislation
On June 12, 2013, H.R. 2330, a comprehensive audiology benefit bill, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with the support of the AAO-HNS. The "support" position of the Academy is the result of many months of discussions between the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the AAO-HNS. However, the decision to support this legislation was not made lightly and represents recognition of the continually changing atmosphere within the healthcare delivery system. As a result, AAO-HNS leaders believed it prudent to engage in productive conversations with the audiology community as a means to mitigate any truly egregious attempts at scope expansion. As a result of these negotiations, H.R. 2330 retains physician referral requirements, does not permit direct access, and preserves existing state scope-of-practice laws.

AAO-HNS Opposes AAA "Direct Access" Legislation
On February 11, 2014, the "Access to Hearing Healthcare Act" (H.R. 4035) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). Companion legislation (S. 2046) was introduced in the U.S. Senate on February 26. If enacted, H.R. 4035/S. 2046 would provide audiologists with unlimited direct access to Medicare patients without a physician referral, leading to increased healthcare costs and significant patient safety issues. The AAO-HNS strongly opposes H.R. 4035/S. 2046. AAO-HNS members are encouraged to support our advocacy efforts on this issue by contacting their U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators via our legislative action alert

View AAO-HNS letter opposing H.R. 4035. 

*NEW*: View sign-on letter opposing H.R. 4035. 

View AAO-HNS letter opposing S. 2046. 

*NEW*
: View sign-on letter opposing S. 2046.

For more information regarding federal audiology legislation, contact legfederal@entnet.org.