From the Washington Office

From the Washington Office: Gratifying success for ACS legislative advocacy efforts


On the morning of February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The law included legislative priorities that were championed by the ACS and for which staff of the DC office and engaged Fellows of the College have advocated, in some cases, for a number of years.

ACS worked particularly hard in the week leading up to the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 with the goal of ensuring that certain items were included, and certain other items were excluded, in the Continuing Resolution (CR) under consideration by Congress to continue funding the government. The original version of the CR considered and debated by the House of Representatives early in the week included both positive and negative items. The ACS was successful in its efforts to get the Senate to consider a much-improved version of the CR – eliminating a major impediment in the House version. Ultimately, it was the Senate version that was signed into law by President Trump.

The provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 include:

• Flexibility for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) related to how much weight will be ascribed to the Cost component in an individual physician’s MIPS score as well as flexibility in setting the level at which physicians will either receive a positive or negative payment update. Without this flexibility, there was significant concern that Fellows would have significantly greater challenges in avoiding a cut under the MIPS. This language, and the effort to include it, was spearheaded and long championed by the ACS including the drafting of model legislation remedying the problem which was then provided to the leadership and staff of committees of jurisdiction.

• Easing meaningful use (MU) requirements by removing an outdated requirement directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to continue to make meaningful use standards increasingly stringent over time. The ACS has long advocated against increasingly stringent MU requirements that do not lead to improvements in patient care, and feels they are unnecessary and unfair to both patients and providers. Further, easing MU requirements has long been supported by ACS Fellows.

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