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Washington Committee Sets 2021 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda

The AANS and the CNS released their 2021 legislative and regulatory agenda, including health policy action items neurosurgeons plan to advance with Congress and the Biden Administration. Organized neurosurgery aims to:

  • Protect patients’ timely access to care by reforming utilization review practices, such as prior authorization, step-therapy and Medicare’s appropriate use criteria program for advanced diagnostic imaging;
  • Improve the health care delivery system by maintaining existing insurance market reforms and advancing solutions that will lower costs, expand coverage and enhance choice, including establishing network adequacy standards and out-of-network options — with appropriate patient protections for unanticipated medical bills;
  • Support quality resident training and education by increasing the number of Medicare-funded residency positions and preserving the ability of surgeons to maximize education and training opportunities within the profession’s current regulatory structures;
  • Fix the broken medical liability system by adopting proven reforms that are in place in California and Texas and other innovative solutions;
  • Continue progress with medical innovation by prioritizing funding for the National Institutes of Health, adopting a 21st Century Cures Act 2.0 initiative to support pioneering medical technology and life-saving therapies and expanding the availability of telehealth;
  • Alleviate the burdens of electronic health records (EHRs) by achieving interoperability, preventing data blocking, reducing unnecessary data entry and improving the functionality of EHR systems to enhance, not hinder, the delivery of medical care;
  • Restructure Medicare quality improvement programs by minimizing the complexity, streamlining and reducing reporting burdens and promoting specialty-specific quality measures, clinical data registries and alternative payment models that clinicians, not the government, develop; and
  • Champion fair reimbursement by improving the Medicare physician payment system — including providing an inflationary payment update, revisiting budget-neutrality requirements and maintaining the 10- and 90-day global surgery payment package — empowering patients and physicians to privately contract fee arrangements and closing the gap in payments between Medicaid and private insurers to reduce access to care disparities.

In a press release announcing the agenda, Washington Committee chair John K. Ratliff, MD, FAANS, stated that “During these unprecedented times, the AANS and the CNS will continue to encourage policymakers to work together to find bipartisan solutions for our nation’s top health care issues to ensure that our patients have timely access to high-quality neurosurgical care.”