The AANS has an active, valuable and effective Political Action Committee, or PAC, which provides organized neurosurgery with vital access to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and allows neurosurgeons to voice their views on critical issues facing their practice and their patients.
NeurosurgeryPAC's recent accomplishments include:
- As a leader of the Regulatory Relief Coalition, neurosurgery is calling on Congress to pass legislation to regulate the use of prior authorization by Medicare Advantage plans. Such legislation would increase transparency, streamline the prior authorization process, and minimize the use of prior authorization for services that are routinely approved. The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (S. 3018/H.R. 3173) introduced by Sens. Roger Marshall, MD (R-Kan.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Calif.); Mike Kelly (R-Pa.); Ami Bera, MD, (D-Calif.); and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.). The bill would protect patients in Medicare Advantage from unnecessary prior authorization practices that limit their timely access to medically necessary care.
- The Safe Step Act (S. 464/H.R. 2163) — introduced in the Senate by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska); Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.); and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and in the House of Representatives by Reps. Raul Ruiz, MD, (D-Calif.) and Brad Wenstrup, DPM, (R-Ohio) — would place reasonable limits on step therapy. Step therapy is a troubling practice that requires patients to try — and fail — treatments preferred by their insurance company and pharmacy benefits manager before a doctor-prescribed option can be approved
- Neurosurgery is encouraging policymakers to establish network adequacy standards that require plans to offer a sufficient number and type of specialists and subspecialists in their provider networks, while at the same time maintaining patient choice through out-of-network options. We recommend that Congress pass legislation modeled after proven state approaches that protect patients from unanticipated medical bills for out-of-network care, while at the same time facilitating a process to quickly, efficiently and fairly resolve physician and health plan billing disputes using a “baseball-style” arbitration process.
Fair and Adequate Reimbursement
- Organized neurosurgery is leading efforts to promote legislation that would ensure fair and adequate reimbursement for neurosurgical services. To provide access to vital surgical services, Medicare must maintain the 10- and 90-day global surgery payment package and CMS must not use flawed or incomplete data to revalue global surgery codes. We are working with Congress to prevent future cuts to global surgery services.
- Patients and physicians should be allowed to privately contract in Medicare without penalty to either party. Under current law, physicians who wish to contract privately must opt-out of Medicare for two years, and Medicare will not pay any portion of the physician's services. Through neurosurgery's efforts, Sens. Rand Paul, MD, (R-Ky.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) introduced the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act (S. 826/H.R. 3322) which would remove these restrictions by allowing physicians to remain in Medicare and enter into private contracts on a case-by-case basis.
- A long-time supporter of efforts to ensure that physicians of all specialties and in all regions of the country are fairly reimbursed for the medical services they deliver to Medicare beneficiaries, neurosurgery endorsed legislation to improve payments to neurosurgeons practicing in rural areas. Introduced by Rep. Cynthia Axne (D-Iowa), (H.R. 5054) the Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act, would increase payments to rural providers.
Medical Liability Reform
- To provide crucial medical liability protections for neurosurgeons that provide COVID-related care, Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas) introduced the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act (H.R. 3021). This bill would provide health care professionals with limited and targeted protection from the serious threat of COVID-19-related liability lawsuits. The legislation appropriately excludes liability protections in situations of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
- Championed by and at the request of organized neurosurgery, Sens. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.) and Angus King (I-Maine) in the Senate, and Reps. Raul Ruiz, MD, (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon, MD, (R-Ind.) in the House, reintroduced the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act (S. 2941/H.R. 5239) This legislation would ensure that health professionals who provide voluntary care in response to a federally declared disaster have appropriate medical liability protections. The bill aims to address the current inconsistencies in federal and state laws, which may leave physicians vulnerable to lawsuits.
Graduate Medical Education
An appropriate supply of well-educated and trained physicians is an essential element to ensure access to quality healthcare services for all Americans. Through the continued advocacy of neurosurgery, policymakers are beginning to understand that there are significant shortages of physicians in both primary and specialty care.
- Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); John Boozman (R-Ark.); and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate, and Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) in the House, introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S. 834/H.R. 2256) This legislation would increase the number of Medicare-supported residency positions by 3,000 each year for the next five years for a total of 15,000 new residency slots.
- Reps. Brian Babin, DDS, (R-Texas) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) introduced the Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act (H.R. 4122) The bill makes student loan borrowers eligible for interest-free deferment under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program if the borrowers are serving in medical or dental internships or residency programs.
Improving Trauma and Emergency Care
- Championed by neurosurgery and signed in to law last year, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (P.L. 116-22), reauthorizes programs supporting the country’s response to disease outbreaks, nuclear fallout or other health emergencies. This law provides medical liability protections for volunteer physicians who have pre-registered with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals or the Medical Reserve Corps. The law also contains language included in the MISSION Zero Act, which will assist U.S. military health care providers in maintaining a state of readiness by embedding military trauma teams and providers in civilian trauma centers.
- The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (S. 1512/H.R. 2903) was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). Supported by neurosurgery, this bill would expand access to telehealth services.
- The Gun Violence Prevention Research Act (S. 281/H.R. 825) was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and would authorize $50 million to research firearms safety and gun violence prevention.
Medical Innovation and Research
- Ellie’s Law (S. 852/H.R. 1553) introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), would authorize $5 million each year in 2022 through 2026 for further comprehensive research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke on unruptured intracranial aneurysms.
- Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 (S. 1521/H.R. 623), introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) would modify funding for pediatric disease research at NIH by directing certain penalties assessed by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) against pharmaceutical companies.
To check on the status of any of these pieces of legislation, please visit https://www.congress.gov/.