Indeed, urology organizations had fought IPAB virtually since its inception. Dr. Rechtschaffen recalled calling on Congress in 2010 and urging its repeal.
“This gives us back some say in the process,” Dr. Rechtschaffen said, “because it gives us the ability to bring solid data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and MedPAC (the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) when reimbursement cuts are proposed to demonstrate what impact that would have on our patients.”
The new budget also removes Part B drugs from penalties and bonuses under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA)—another objective of the key urology organizations.
That action, Dr. Shore explained, means that providers will not be financially penalized for administering Part B drugs to patients.
“In the original plan, we would have been on the hook for the cost of those drugs, which was absolutely unfair,” said Dr. Rechtschaffen. “The new budget law removes that provision so we will not be charged (in MIPS calculations) for Part B drugs.”
Another victory gained in that legislation, he added, is a 2-year extension from 2021 to 2023 of the deadline for providers to comply with electronic medical records and quality reporting requirements.
“They heard us,” Dr. Rechtschaffen said, referring to members of Congress with whom urologists and AUA representatives had met to express concerns about the burden faced by physicians. “We asked for relief and they heard us.”
Dr. McKenna noted that the AACU last year filed formal comments asking that urologists be given more flexibility in terms of EHR adoption.
“The new budget removes a mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time,” he said. “This will ease the burden on physicians as we will no longer have to ask federal regulators for a hardship exception if we fall slightly short.”
Dr. Shore said LUGPA welcomes a provision in the new budget law that extends the reimbursement rate freeze for radiation oncology, which the organization had supported.
“The rate freeze extension will allow for additional time to develop an alternative payment model for radiation services, a process LUGPA stands ready to support with our expertise,” he said. “The rate freeze also reinforces the importance of site neutrality in reimbursements, which will preserve patient access to radiation oncology services in the setting of their choice.”
In addition, Dr. Shore said the budget law’s improvements in the alternative payment model review process within the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) “will allow fluid communication between the committee, organizations like LUGPA, and the secretary of CMS. We anticipate it will increase participation in APMs under the QPP (Quality Payment Program).”