The Government Shutdown and ACR Government Relations Efforts

The stalemate in Washington continues to stymie legislative action on other fronts. The public has been bombarded with the accusations and public posturing regarding government closure. Most have to do with politics and the 2014 midterm elections. Both parties are looking to shift the blame and appeal to their bases. Jitters on Wall Street may change the dynamics next week.

In the meantime, the wind is getting is getting knocked out of the sails of other issues. We still have legislation in the wings concerning Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR). Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) proposals have been put on hold. Some momentum on the self-referral front created by the president’s budget and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has stalled.

In the short term, the debt ceiling debate will soon take center stage with little to no reprieve from the government shutdown. This dynamic may extend the legislative slowdown. Alternatively, bills or amendments may rapidly get attached to much larger pieces of legislation, which are again quickly ushered around the regular deliberative legislative process. Our government relations team and grassroots advocacy efforts will need to be nimble and adaptive to the political climate. We will be keeping you informed via this blog.

Author – Howard B. Fleishon, M.D., MMM, FACR

Effects of Government Shutdown on ACR Economics Activities

As I write, the federal government has shut down due to a stalemate between the various branches. The Government shutdown has many serious negative implications but for your Economics team it represents the loss of several opportunities to represent you and advocate for fair reimbursement for the valuable imaging services we all provide. Two important meetings have been canceled until further notice.

One was a now annual meeting where our Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) team works with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to determine the appropriate placement and classification of imaging services in the payment system. Jim Rawson, M.D., the chair of our HOPPS Committee, is well respected by the staff at CMS and these meetings have traditionally been collaborative and to the benefit of American College of Radiology (ACR) members.

The second was a meeting which we hoped would launch a discussion with CMS on lung cancer screening. I think we would all agree that only ACR has the experience and scope to develop the type of program that will match optimal benefit to our patients with cost effectiveness.

I don’t want to suggest that these meetings will not be rescheduled but at a time when we are working tirelessly to find ways to demonstrate the value that radiologists deliver, any delay in our ability to tell our story is frustrating.

Author – Geraldine B. McGinty, M.D., MBA, FACR