AGA Policy & Advocacy

Membership priorities shape the AGA advocacy agenda


The AGA Government Affairs Committee and staff recently published in Gastroenterology the results from an AGA membership survey on policy priorities and how members can contribute to AGA advocacy efforts.1 Here, we present key highlights from the survey findings and share opportunities for members to engage in GI advocacy.

AGA advocacy has contributed to significant recent successes that include lowering the average-risk of colorectal cancer screening age from 50 to 45 years, phasing out cost-sharing burdens associated with polypectomy at screening colonoscopy, encouraging federal support to focus on GI cancer disparities, ensuring coverage for telehealth services, expanding colonoscopy coverage after positive noninvasive colorectal cancer screening tests, and mitigating scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursement for GI services.

Amit Patel, MD

Dr. Amit Patel

Despite these important successes, the GI community faces significant challenges that include persisting GI health disparities; declines in reimbursement and increased prior authorization burdens for GI procedures and clinic visits, limited research funding to address the burden of GI disease, climate change, provider burnout, and increasing administrative burdens (such as insurance prior authorizations and step therapy policies.

The AGA sought to better understand policy priorities of the GI community by disseminating a 34-question policy priority survey to AGA members in December 2022. A total of 251 members responded to the survey with career stage and primary practice setting varying among respondents (Figure 1). The AGA vetted and selected 10 health policy issues of highest interest with 95% of survey respondents agreeing these 10 selected topics covered the top priority issues impacting gastroenterology (Figure 2).

TABLE. American Gastroenterological Association advocacy

From these 10 policy issues, members were asked to identify the top 5 issues that AGA advocacy efforts should address.

The issues most frequently identified included reducing administrative burdens and patient delays in care because of increased prior authorizations (78%), ensuring fair reimbursement for GI providers (68%), reducing insurance-initiated switching of patient treatments for nonmedical reasons (58%), maintaining coverage of video and telephone evaluation and management visits (55%), and reducing delays in clinical care resulting from step therapy protocols (53%).

Other important issues included ensuring patients with pre-existing conditions have access to essential benefits and quality specialty care (43%); protecting providers from medical licensing restrictions and liability to deliver care across state lines (35%); addressing Medicare Quality Payment Program reporting requirements and lack of specialty advanced payment models (27%); increasing funding for GI health disparities (24%); and, increasing federal research funding to ensure greater opportunities for diverse early career investigators (20%).

Most problematic burdens

Survey respondents identified insurer prior authorization and step therapy burdens as especially problematic. 93% of respondents described the impact of prior authorization on their practices as “significantly burdensome” (61%) or “somewhat burdensome” (32%).

About 95% noted that prior authorization restrictions have impacted patient access to clinically appropriate treatments and patient clinical outcomes “significantly” (56%) or “somewhat” (39%) negatively. 84% described the burdens associated with prior authorization policies as having increased “significantly” (60%) or “somewhat” (24%) over the last 5 years.

Dr. Rontonya Carr

Likewise, step therapy protocols were perceived by 84% of respondents as burdensome; by 88% as negatively impactful on patient access to clinically appropriate treatments; and, by 88% as negatively impactful on patient clinical outcomes.

About 84% of respondents noted increases in the frequency of nonmedical switching and dosing restrictions over the last 5 years, with 90% perceiving negative impacts on patient clinical outcomes. 73% of respondents reported increased burdens associated with compliance in the Medicare QPP over the last 5 years.


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