Based on a partnership with Urology Times, articles from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or [email protected] for more information.
National politics, state advocacy issues, and innovative topics in urologic care came together as urologists from every practice setting and at varied points in their careers gathered in Washington for the AACU 2019 annual meeting. Over two days in October, notable speakers and special guests led engaging conversations on public policy, leadership development, and cutting-edge science.
Policy and leadership
The provision of health care via telemedicine was characterized as the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Southern California Permanente's Eugene Rhee, MD, MBA. Dr. Rhee kicked off the event by applauding these advances, but recognized several obstacles to widespread adoption, including reimbursement. Medicare, in particular, lags behind other payers because restrictive statutes and regulations result in partial payment for services delivered remotely. A robust discussion on technology, cross-state licensure, liability, and reimbursement took place, setting the stage for several sessions geared toward urologists interested in 21st century communication and leadership.
Also from the AACU: Transition to value-based care requires MACRA reform
LUGPA Health Policy Chair Deepak Kapoor, MD, shared his insights on recent legislative and regulatory proposals, including a rule issued Oct. 9 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, represents “the most significant changes to the Stark law since its inception.” Dr. Kapoor agreed, and summarized various elements of the rule and the exceptions it creates for physicians who participate in value-based care payment models.
Dr. Kapoor’s presentation also included an analysis of proposed changes to Medicare reimbursement. He argued that despite the widespread attention paid to the annual rules, the proposed changes to CPT codes and other policies will have a relatively minor impact on urology this year.
UROPAC Chair Robert Bass, MD, MBA, highlighted key policy issues that the AACU has been active on, including MACRA reform, reducing the burden of prior authorization, Stark law modernization, and greater transparency within the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. As Congress addresses these and other issues relevant to the house of medicine, such as prescription drug pricing and surprise medical billing, Dr. Bass assured participants that the urologic community will be well represented.
AACU State Advocacy Network Chair William Reha, MD, MBA, meanwhile, detailed myriad initiatives under the banner, “Virtual Network, Real Results.” Dr. Reha noted that state legislatures introduce an average of more than 125,000 bills per year, or 23 times the number introduced each year in the U.S. Congress. That’s why physician advocacy groups like the AACU and AUA must collaborate with state medical associations and other national specialty physician organizations.
When an issue directly impacts urology, however, Dr. Reha insisted that the AACU moves quickly to "alert, educate, and mobilize the entire urologic community." Campaigns identified by Dr. Reha and AACU State Affairs Manager Ross Weber included: cost-free prostate cancer screening coverage in New York; nursing assistant authority to diagnose and treat UTIs in Connecticut; management of conditions contributing to variations in physical sex characteristics in several states; and a national perspective on medical liability reform and state-funded graduate medical education.