It’s been a busy couple of months for health policy on Capitol Hill, as the AACU and UROPAC continue to make headway in their efforts to strengthen urology’s voice in Washington. On multiple occasions, AACU members have met with lawmakers to discuss several priorities for urologists, including administrative burden, USPSTF reform, specialty physician shortages, and access to affordable treatments.
According to Miller Ashman, MD, a practicing urologist from upstate New York who attended multiple meetings on the Hill this past June, “I helped legislators understand how rules enacted by government bureaucracies often become a deterrent to effective, time-appropriate patient care. I reviewed examples of how a poor rating assigned to PSA testing has led to a higher incidence of metastatic disease at time of initial diagnosis. I stressed the need for GME funding to include specialty medicine in addition to primary care.
“I was surprised at how willing the congressmen I met with were willing to listen,” Dr. Ashman said. “My discussion with one representative produced immediate results, as I received a call from his office within 2 hours of our meeting.”
USPSTF reform remains high priority
On May 8, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its final recommendation statement on screening for prostate cancer, solidifying the revised “C” grade for men ages 55 to 69 years. In response, the AACU joined the AUA, LUGPA, and numerous organizations from the urologic community in commending the Task Force for recognizing the need for an individualized approach to screening based on an informed discussion between patients and their doctors.
But while the AACU and the urologic community acknowledged that the Task Force has improved the recommendation process since its 2012 statement on prostate cancer screening, as was evidenced by the revised recommendations, there is still more to be done to promote transparency and accountability. The importance of involving specialists in making these key determinations about specific patient care issues simply cannot be understated.
As such, AACU members have continued to make USPSTF reform a priority in their discussions with legislators on the Hill and have urged House members to co-sponsor and support the passage of H.R. 539, the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act.
For example, during a recent discussion with Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA-1), AACU President-Elect Mark Edney, MD, MBA, explained the negative effects that the 2012 USPSTF recommended “D” rating for prostate cancer screening has had on prostate cancer treatment, including a troubling uptick in metastatic cases over the past several years. Rep. Carter was troubled by the problems with USPSTF and indicated his office would take a much closer look at H.R. 539.
Administrative burden, physician shortage highlighted
Other top priorities for the AACU include bringing down ever-increasing health care costs and reducing the administrative burden associated with not only MACRA implementation but also utilization management protocols like step therapy and other onerous requirements that do not reflect the reality of day-to-day practice.
During his time on the Hill last week, which included meetings with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH-2), and staff from the offices of Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-6), AACU President Patrick McKenna, MD, highlighted the impact of administrative burden on practicing urologists, particularly with respect to electronic health records (EHRs), by pointing out its link to provider burnout and specialty physician shortages.