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AMA’s Top Five Federal Issues for 2014

Jan 10, 2014

Implementation of the ACA, the repeal of Medicare’s failed sustained growth formula, and the proposed roll-out of the International Classification of Diseases, Version 10, top the list….

Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D., president of the AMA, discusses the top five issues likely to impact physicians and patients in 2014.

Hoven notes that the repeal of Medicare’s failed sustained growth formula is likely to eliminate instability and that new bills should offer improvements over the current law.

On Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented and the AMA plans to provide resources to smooth the transition and monitor the impact on practices. The AMA intends to continue working to prevent implementation of the International Classification of Diseases, Version 10, code set, scheduled for Oct. 1, which will increase outpatient diagnostic codes five-fold. In addition, the AMA will work to make Stage 2 meaningful use of electronic health records criteria more reasonable, with the deadline for meaningful use scheduled for Sept. 30.

Finally, the AMA will be providing resources to help physicians prepare for the publication of physician data under the Sunshine Act, scheduled for Sep. 30, which will report financial interactions with drug and medical device manufacturers.

The top five issue of 2014 for physicians:

1. Repeal of Medicare’s failed SGR formula. Congress will continue its work on repeal legislation following the winter recess. In addition to eliminating the tremendous instability that comes with the SGR formula, the bills under consideration offer other significant improvements over current law.

2. Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1. While aspects of this roll-out have been rocky, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of health care reform: Millions of previously uninsured Americans will gain access to care, and millions more no longer will be at risk of losing their coverage when they need it most. This is a chief goal for us as physicians—helping patients become healthy and stay healthy. 

3. Implementation of the ICD-10 code set, scheduled for Oct. 1. Under the new code set, physicians will have to contend with about 68,000 outpatient diagnostic codes—a five-fold increase over the 13,000 ICD-9 codes we currently use. The AMA has been working for years to prevent the roll-out of ICD-10. Two bills were introduced in 2013 to this end, and we continue to stress to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that the new code set will place an immense burden on physicians.

4. Meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR), to which physicians must attest by Sept. 30. Physicians who don’t attest to fulfilling the meaningful use requirements by the deadline will be subject to Medicare penalties in 2015. While we have been successful in delaying Stage 3 for a year, we continue to urge CMS to make Stage 2 requirements more reasonable, address usability issues and break down barriers preventing communication among EHR systems rather than placing the responsibility on physicians to achieve the impractical. 

5. Physician data will be published by Sept. 30 under the Sunshine Act. Financial interactions with drug and medical device manufacturers will be publically reported in an online database for the first time later this year. Physicians will have an opportunity to review and challenge data before it is posted.

AMA Press Release 1-6-2014