Regular readers of this column may remember the March 2015 edition devoted to the topic of the CMS’s proposal to transition all 10-day and 90-day global codes to 0-day global codes in 2017 and 2018, respectively. As a result of a coordinated advocacy effort of the American College of Surgeons and a coalition of 24 other surgical and medical groups including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American College of Cardiology, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) included a provision that required that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) instead collect data from a representative sample of providers to facilitate the accurate valuation of surgical services before proposing any changes to the global payment structure.
Fast forward to July 7, 2016, and the release of the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule. In that proposed rule, the CMS disregards the specific legislative language from Congress and proposes to collect data from all physicians who provide 10- and 90-day global services. This would obviously create yet another huge administrative burden AND also coincide with the time physicians and practices are engaged in efforts to implement the changes required by the new Quality Payment Program (QPP) mandated by MACRA. Specifically, if the proposed PFS rule is finalized, all surgeons would be required to submit data in 10-minute increments for all 10- and 90-day global code services.
Obviously, this is in direct conflict with the language in MACRA that directs the CMS to collect these data from a “representative sample” of practitioners.
Upon discovering the CMS’s plan in the proposed rule, the legislative team in ACS’s Division of Advocacy and Health Policy contacted the congressional sponsors of the original effort directed at the global codes, Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (R-IN), and Rep. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA). Dr. Bucshon and Dr. Bera began circulating a letter, addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and CMS Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt, urging the CMS to abandon the proposed policy outlined in the 2017 PFS proposed rule regarding the arduous data collection requirements for global codes.
In the week leading up to the summer congressional recess, the ACS sent the letter to all 435 offices in the House of Representatives urging other members to sign on to the letter. The ACS lobbyists and those from the coalition of groups previously involved in the efforts relative to global codes are currently engaged in individual follow-up with offices as well. The goal is to make a strong showing to the CMS with a large number of signatures from members of Congress in the hope that the CMS will modify the final rule in accordance with the legislative language found in MACRA.
This is where we need your help!
By the time you receive this issue of ACS Surgery News, all Fellows will have received an email requesting that they respond by contacting their individual members of Congress to urge them to sign on to the letter. This may be accomplished either by placing a call or by sending an email communication.
Those choosing to call may use the ACS Legislative Hotline at 877-996-4464. Follow the instructions to be connected to the office of your member of Congress. Once connected, please inform them that you are a constituent, and then deliver the following message:
“As a surgeon and a constituent, I urge Rep. _____ to join Rep Dr. Larry Bucshon and Rep. Dr. Ami Bera in supporting the bipartisan sign-on letter to the CMS in order to stop the administratively burdensome data entry changes proposed by the CMS relative to 10- and 90-day global codes.
“The proposed changes would mandate that all practitioners who perform global code services enter data in 10-minute intervals for every patient billed under global codes rather than adhering to the direction of Congress to obtain the necessary information from a ‘representative sample’ as was mandated in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).”
For those wishing further information on this matter or for those who would prefer to contact their representative by email, an ACTION Alert can be found on the SurgeonsVoice website (www.surgeonsvoice.com – click on the Take Action tab on the right side of the page). The alert addressing the global codes issue is at the top of the list and includes a fact sheet that outlines the issue and provides background information along with a link to facilitate transmittal of your message urging your representative to sign on to the Bucshon-Bera letter. Because Congress has adjourned for their summer recess and will not return until Sept. 6, 2016, we have ample time to gather the overwhelming support we need to initiate action precluding the inclusion of this flawed proposal in the final rule, which is expected to be released the first week of November 2016.