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OUR Issues

  • SSAT LOBBY DAY 2015

    The SSAT is pleased to announce a new advocacy opportunity for its U.S. members during the 2015 Annual Meeting at DDW in Washington, DC. On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the SSAT will be hosting its first ever Lobby Day event. U.S. members of the SSAT will have the opportunity to interact with their home and work Congressional members and staff and advocate on issues that impact their surgical patients and their surgical practices.

    This unique opportunity will be available for 25 SSAT members (U.S. members only). Those participants will be able to attend an Advocacy Boot Camp during DDW to prepare for their visits, and then on Tuesday will go on scheduled office visits.

    This is a GREAT opportunity to let your voice be heard by the people who are directly affecting your surgical practice. There are limited spots to sign up now!

    Contact Renee Russo at rrusso@prri.com to sign up!

  • Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)

    UPDATED INFORMATION

    On March 26th, the House of Representatives passed the SGR Repeal Bill, HR 2, with a vote of 392-37. On the evening of April 14th, the Senate passed HR 2 with a vote of 92-8. Thank you to all who participated in contacting your Representatives and Senators to help pass this historic vote!!


    BACKGROUND

    For the past decade, you have been hearing requests for you to help bring an end to the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula used to calculate Medicare physician pay. In years past, despite our best efforts, Congress never progressed beyond a stopgap solution. THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT. Congressional leadership has spent the past week in exhaustive bipartisan negotiations, seeking to put forth a compromise package that will forever eliminate the SGR, and pass the ACS supported, bipartisan, bicameral permanent repeal legislation introduced last year.

    In an exceptional return to “regular order” and bipartisan negotiation, this package represents a true compromise, meaning some members of both parties will have concerns with accommodations made for the other. This bill must pass the House in a strong, bipartisan manner to have any hope of final enactment.

    This will not be an easy vote, and it will take an inundation of messages to Capitol Hill by surgeons, our families, employees of our practices, even our patients to help individual members of Congress comprehend the historic nature of this vote. If they do not vote yes, they are not a friend to medicine.

    Whether you have taken action every time we have asked, or have never taken action before; not a single one of us can afford to sit idle today. Please use the information below to contact your representative and senators today and make them hear loud and clear that this vote is the most important vote they will cast for the medical community, and their YES vote is essential.

    Our legislators must know that we are paying attention and demanding that Congress put an end to wasteful stopgap measures. They must finally enact true and permanent reform. We beseech you not only to take action yourself, but to share this message with your colleagues, family, friends and patients, and make our voices heard loud and clear - now is the time for Congress to stand up for medicine.

    YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED TODAY
    We urgently need your help. Using the information below, please contact your representative and senators today and urge them to VOTE YES to permanently fix the broken Medicare physician payment formula (SGR), and stop the 21 percent cut to Medicare physician payments scheduled to go into effect on March 31.
  • Medical Liability Reform

    Our medical liability system is broken and needs fixing. See what actions are being taken to help surgeons and surgical patients obtain the protection they need.

    • The current medical liability system in the U.S. is broken, draining the health care system an estimated $55.6 billion per year and accounting for 2.4 percent of annual health care spending.
      • There is an estimated $45.6 billion spent on defensive medicine.
      • Administrative costs comprise 54 to 60 percent of total costs of the money spent within the medical liability system itself, excluding defensive medicine. These costs include attorneys' fees and other overhead.
    • Fewer than 3 percent of patients who are injured as a result of a medical error ever seek compensation for their injuries.
    • Nearly 25 percent of awards are not factually supported by the merits of the case.
    • Fear of litigation leads practitioners to modify their practices to focus on specialties with lower risk and to avoid procedures and patients perceived as higher risk.

    The best way to improve this broken system is align evidence-based liability reform with improvement in the quality, cost and appropriateness of care. There isn't a "quick fix" nor one all-encompassing solution.

    • Representatives Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced H.R. 1473, the "Standard of Care Protection Act."
      • This bill specifies that no standard or guideline in Medicare, Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act may be used to establish the standard of care that a health care professional must provide to a patient. 
      • It is designed to prevent the courts from determining negligence solely based on whether a physician adhered strictly to a federal guideline. 

    The SSAT believes that properly formulated guidelines, continuously updated to reflect changing scientific knowledge of what care provides the best outcome for the patient, can play an important role in health care.

    • Should be used to assist the physicians in choosing the care that works best for the individual patient, they should not impede patient choice or the physician's role in providing efficient, appropriate and comprehensive health care.
    • H.R. 36, the "Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act," sponsored by Representative Charles Dent (R-PA) is an example of this legislation.
      • Focuses on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which mandates that a physician provides care to stabilize a patient who presents at a hospital emergency department, regardless of their ability to pay.
      • Provides Public Health Service Act liability protections for physicians providing EMTALA-mandated health care.
  • Surgeon workforce/GME funding

    Evidence is mounting that we are heading for a national surgeon workforce shortage, learn what is being done to prevent this from happening.

    There has been an ever-growing body of evidence that points to the current and worsening shortage of surgeons that will available to serve our nation's aging and increasing population.

    • An estimated shortage of 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists are projected over the next decade according to the Association of American Medical College's (AAMC) Center for Workforce Studies. 
    • As the need for services from surgeons increase, the number of qualified professionals available to provide these services is becoming more limited.

    Legislation is needed to help find creative avenues to create new GME positions and increase the number of available surgeons.

    • S. 577, the "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013" was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), along with Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY on March 14, 2013
      • Addresses both short- and long-term workforce demands by increasing the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) residency positions by roughly 15,000 over the next five years.
    • Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) introduced H.R. 1180, the "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act," which is similar to the Senate bill.
      • Both bills have half of the new residency slots allocated must be used for shortage specialty residency programs as defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
      • These bills also direct the National Health Care Workforce Commission to study the physician workforce and identify physician specialty shortages, requiring them to report these findings to Congress by January 1, 2016.
    • Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Allyson Schwarts (D-PA) reintroduced H.R. 1201, the "Training Tomorrows Doctors Today Act."
      • Increases the number of Medicare-support residency positions by 15,000 over five years. Wil also establish Medicare GME accountability and transparency measures.
      • The Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is directed to implement a budget-neutral Medicare Indirect Medicare Education (IME) Performance Adjustment Program along with submitting an annual report to Congress on Medicare GME payments.
      • There are still some issues with this legislation:
        • Currently no option to reshuffle slots that remain unfilled for extended periods of time to hospitals in eed to assure adequate use of all slots
        • GME and IME payments should be related to educational issues instead of other larger Medicare priorities.

    Unless Congress acts on this legislation, patients could lose access to high quality surgical care in the future. Your members of Congress need to hear from you!!