Changing the Conversation: A Unique Approach to Legislative Practice Visits

This article was authored by Edward J. Toggart, MD, FACC, governor of the ACC Oregon Chapter.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who is a veterinarian by trade and is in his 4th term in Congress. He currently serves on the House Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He also previously served as a member of the non-partisan Congressional Arts Caucus and was heavily involved in the repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

I was contacted by ACC’s Grassroots Advocacy manager about an opportunity for Rep. Schrader to make a practice visit. After accepting the offer, I immediately began thinking about how to best approach the visit, including how to communicate the critical issues facing the cardiology community. Continue reading

Cardiovascular Summit: Disruptive Solutions For the CV Care Team

ValentineThis post was authored by C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC, incoming vice president of the ACC and course co-director of the 2016 Cardiovascular Summit.

As clinicians, we strive day in and day out to provide high-quality, patient-centered, cost-efficient care to our patients. In a time of rapid health care change, balancing all of this while also striving to achieve operational excellence and financial success is challenging to say the least.

Recognizing the need for solutions to help cardiovascular professionals thrive in this time of change, Howard T. Walpole, MD, MBA, FACC, Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, and I started the Cardiovascular Summit several years back. Since then, the course has evolved to meet the current needs of entire the cardiovascular care team. Continue reading

The Time is Ripe For a New Dialogue on Capitol Hill

As part of ACC’s 2015 Legislative Conference, more than 400 cardiovascular professionals were on Capitol Hill yesterday meeting with their congressional leaders. For the first time in many years, cardiology had a fresh message to take to Washington. Now that the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is history, it’s time to focus on other issues that threaten the tremendous progress that has been made over the last several decades to reduce cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Population Health and Primary Prevention in the Spotlight

MartinThis post was authored by Gerard R. Martin, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Population Health Policy and Health Promotion Committee.

We’re currently at a crossroads of health care delivery and health promotion. Up until now, we, as cardiovascular professionals, have been laser focused on secondary prevention, only scraping the surface of primary prevention. While technological and educational advances over the last few decades have resulted in a significant reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the U.S., the burden of CVD is set to increase 57 percent by 2020 worldwide.

To adjust to this new landscape, we must shift the paradigm from treatment to prevention and begin moving towards population health if we want to kick CVD off the list as the world’s #1 killer. This is no easy task. Population health – which is at a complex intersection between an increasingly diverse population, an evolving health care system, traditional public health and elaborate social policies – is not easy to define. I can guarantee that each and every one of us has a different perspective on the topic, making it difficult to come to a consensus on how best to move forward. Continue reading

ACC on Capitol Hill: Health Information Blocking is a Threat to Patients and Practices

MIrroThis post was authored by Michael J. Mirro, MD, FACC, a member of the ACC’s Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force.

Today, I had the opportunity to testify on Capitol Hill about the important issue of health information blocking, unforeseen problems that have been created by electronic health records (EHRs), and possible solutions to help improve care during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing titled “Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology: Information Blocking and Potential Solutions.”

This spring, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced their aim to accomplish five items related to interoperability of EHRs, including health information blocking, by the end of the year—whether through legislative means or an administrative fix. To accomplish this goal, the Senate HELP Committee has been hard at work soliciting feedback from stakeholder organizations, including the ACC, to help them pave a path forward. Continue reading

ACC President Celebrates SGR Repeal Victory at White House

Yesterday, ACC President Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC, represented the College at the White House where President Barack Obama hosted a reception to celebrate passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Williams attended the Rose Garden ceremony along with Democrat and Republican Committee staff, House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthew Burwell.

The recently passed legislation, which permanently repeals the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), establishes a framework for rewarding clinicians for value over volume, streamlines quality reporting programs into one system, and reauthorizes two years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a tremendous victory for the house of medicine and ends nearly two decades of uncertainty for providers, practices and patients. Continue reading

An Important Message From the ACC President on ABIM MOC and SGR Legislation

Dear ACC Members,

As you know, we are on the brink of a historic Senate vote that would permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that has created well over a decade of instability for our patients and our practices. The bill to be considered, H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, is a well-vetted piece of legislation that was developed in a bipartisan, bicameral manner and enjoys the support of ACC and virtually all of organized medicine. This consensus legislation passed the House two weeks ago with an overwhelming level of support- 392 members from across the political spectrum. We now must push the Senate to act.

We have issued multiple calls to action for you to contact your legislators. With over 6,000 messages to the Hill from members of the ACC alone, the response has been unprecedented and impressive. In recent days, we have seen speculation and misinformation that is a potentially damaging distraction from this critical effort.

The facts are clear. H.R. 2, supported by the ACC, does not require participation in maintenance of certification (MOC), nor does it establish ABMS, ABIM, or any specific entity to administer MOC. No one would be forced to participate in MOC. Continue reading

A Good Reminder Not to Lose Sight of Patient Value When Looking at Costs of Care

This post was authored by William A. Zoghbi, MD, MACC, past president of the ACC, in response to the New York Times article on echocardiography charges.

The New York Times this week ran a feature article in its “Health” section on the variations in charges associated with echocardiography (The Odd Math of Medical Tests: One Scan, Two Prices, Both High). In addition to raising concerns about charges, the piece suggested not only an increase in the use of echocardiography, but also inappropriate use of the technology by physicians.

Discussions about variations in cost are important across the health care spectrum – charges for all health services, not just echocardiography, vary significantly from one institution to another in the US. However, as Dr. David Wiener of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) noted in the article, it’s important that these discussions take into account the multiple factors responsible for the variation, including our decentralized health care system, state regulations and the need to subsidize poorly reimbursed services. Furthermore, the actual charges have little to do with actual payment for services by private or governmental payers, as charges have become an index of overall health care costs and inflation for each institution over the years, and do not mirror actual payments – a mere fraction. Unfortunately, the uninsured in the US are burdened with negotiating these high charges to a more acceptable and realistic level, highlighting the need for reform and transparency in prices of rendered services.   Continue reading

Oh, Canada! My Home and Native Land

This post was authored by Chris Simpson, MD, FACC, Ontario ACC Governor and president-elect designate of the Canadian Medical Association.

Canadian Medicare was born in Saskatchewan; its roots dating back to the Depression era. In 1949, Saskatchewan became the first political jurisdiction in North America to introduce public coverage for all hospital services. In 1959, Premier Tommy Douglas announced that the government intended to implement universal and comprehensive medical insurance. Saskatchewan doctors were apoplectic. Douglas won the 1960 election with a mandate to proceed, but the doctors went on strike.

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I Am A Republican… Can We Talk About A Single Payer System?

I am a Republican. For those who know me that is not a surprise. I live in a red state. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. I can field strip, clean and reassemble a Remington 12-gauge pump blindfolded. And on top of it, I think we should talk about having a single payer national health care plan. The reason is quite simple. In my view, we already have one; we just don’t take advantage of it.

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