During Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) this year the AGA Political Action Committee (PAC) honored Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., for their support over the years in advancing the science and practice of gastroenterology on Capitol Hill.
Cassidy has been instrumental in passing legislation that reformed the broken sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and transitioned physicians to more value-based payments in the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Cassidy was particularly helpful in creating a pathway for specialty physician–focused payment models and was helpful to AGA in communicating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about the need for specialty-driven health care models. Cassidy also championed our transparency campaign when the GI codes were being reevaluated and because of his help, CMS reformed the way they announce changes to the fee schedule and now provide notice so that stakeholders are able to participate in the process. Cassidy has also been a strong proponent in providing more transparency across our health care system and helping to provide regulatory relief to physicians, especially in the area of electronic health records.
Thompson has been a champion for GIs and our patients by supporting efforts to increase access to colorectal cancer screenings. He is a cosponsor of Removing Barriers to the Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, legislation that would correct the problem of requiring patients to pay a copay when a screening colonoscopy turns therapeutic. He also played a key role in AGA’s efforts to require CMS to change its fee setting system to one that is more transparent and provides stakeholders such as AGA the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in the process. Thompson signed onto two key letters to CMS calling on the agency to change its system to a more transparent one and to heed stakeholder input into the process. He has also been a strong supporter of meaningful funding increases for the National Institutes of Health.