Let Me Hear from You: 2015…A Brand New Year
Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe we are entering 2015, a fresh new year with endless possibilities. It seems like just yesterday we were worrying about Y2K and the crash of global computer networks. Back then, we were worried that a world-wide crash of these systems could potentially cause disruption in financial and banking services, power grids, and so much more. I remember the preparations in late 1999 with people buying generators, withdrawing cash from their bank accounts, and stocking up on food and water for fear grocery stores would not be able to check customers out because of a glitch in their checkout systems. Thankfully the beginning of the year 2000 came and went with minimal disruption.
While we didn’t have to worry about these types of preparations as we entered 2015, we did enter this new year like so many others, with a unique set of hopes and an opportunity for a fresh start. The beginning of the new year allows each of us to reflect on what we might personally change in our lives, and for the Academy, it is the time when the board of directors and our volunteer leadership assess and plan how we will continue to advance the profession in the coming year(s).
On January 3, 2015, we entered a new congressional session, the 114th Congress. The Academy has done a great deal of work in the past 20 years to educate our elected officials about our profession and the value of the services our members provide. While these efforts are not forgotten when we enter a new congressional session, we do start anew to build support for our legislative and regulatory advocacy agenda. Academy volunteers with expertise in these matters, Academy staff, and consultants assess our current strategy and determine what, if any changes, are warranted moving forward. Following our most recent discussions, the leadership maintains it is necessary that our legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts are viewed collectively.
We recognize that each of you is being asked to do more for less. For example, you are now required to apply quality measures when submitting Medicare claims or you will be financially penalized if you don’t. So what is the Academy doing to impact these regulatory mandates and how does what we’ve learned over the past 20 years alter our advocacy agenda in 2015?
Certainly the valiant efforts of our Practice Policy Advisory Council (PPAC) and our work on the Relative Value Update Committee—Healthcare Professionals Advisory Committee (RUC-HCPAC) are crucial in our regulatory advocacy. Your Academy representatives have fought for fair and accurate valuation of the services we provide. Your participation in this process is critical and we thank our members for taking the time to complete the RUC surveys. While the RUC provides recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the value of our services, we have noted recently that CMS does not always accept these recommendations. While this trend is becoming more common, it is still imperative that we have influence in this process. We thank those on the PPAC for ensuring the voice of our Academy members is heard.
Additionally, recent congressional history has demonstrated that getting legislation passed in Washington, DC, is beyond difficult in the current political climate. The 112th Congress was one of the least productive Congresses since the Truman administration and the 113th Congress was even worse! Only 234 bills were passed by the 113th Congress, the lowest number recorded in Congressional history, and 18 percent less than the 112th Congress. So why does this matter?
With the staggering and disappointing productivity of the past two Congressional Sessions, the Academy leadership maintains it is necessary to look at our legislative agenda and determine if any of our agenda could be accomplished through means other than the legislative process. We are seeking opportunities, some brought forth by the Affordable Care Act, which may allow us to impact some of our advocacy agenda through administrative and regulatory changes. In 2015, and throughout the 114th Congressional Session, the Academy will be seeking a number of paths to achieve our advocacy objectives. We understand this is a dynamic process and we will continue to need your help as we endeavor to achieve our goals. Furthermore, we will continue to seek opportunities for the Academy to work with our colleagues in other associations in order to realize both our Founders vision for the profession and that of our membership.
In closing, I extend my gratitude to our Founders as we celebrate our 27th Founders Day on January 30th. It is through their energy, and that of our 24 past presidents, nearly 100 past and current board members, and thousands of volunteers, that the Academy has achieved so many goals in its short 27-year history. Here’s too many more successes this year and for many years to come.
Until next time…