RheumWATCH Archives


Read the RheumWATCH archives on topics such as rheumatology advocacy, policy updates, insurance advocacy, and practice management.


Health Policy Priorities for 2015; New MU Deadline

ACR Finalizes Policy Priorities for 2015

At its February meeting, the ACR Board of Directors approved new Health Policy Statements for 2015, reflecting key priorities and positions on the full span of major legislative and regulatory issues facing rheumatologists and the rheumatology community.

2015 Health Policy Statements

  • Reflect ACR priorities and positions on legislative and regulatory issues that impact the rheumatology community;
  • Communicate policy recommendations to members of Congress, regulatory entities and advocacy organizations; and
  • Guide the ACR’s advocacy activities.

Special thanks to the volunteer members of the Government Affairs Committee for the substantial time, effort and expertise they contribute on behalf of rheumatology in this area and many others.

More information on the 2015 ACR Health Policy Statements is available here. If you have questions or would like to get involved in advancing the issues that matter most to you, contact ACR staff at advocacy@rheumatology.org

New Meaningful Use Deadline

CMS has extended the 2014 attestation deadline for Meaningful Use to March 20, 2015. Providers who successfully attest to MU for 2014 will receive an incentive payment and avoid the payment adjustment that will be applied Jan. 1, 2016. This extension also allows eligible professionals the option to use their “one switch” between Medicare and Medicaid reporting if they so desire.

Although this extension will grant providers extra time to submit their data, it is still recommended that providers submit their attestation as soon as possible.

Please visit the CMS registration and attestation website to complete MU attestation.

If you have any questions or need more information or assistance, please contact Maryam Gueye at mgueye@rheumatology.org.

Attend Your State Rheumatology Society Meeting this Spring

Participating in state society meetings is a great way to learn about new research and technology, satisfy CME requirements and join advocacy efforts. Upcoming meetings include: California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

Visit http://www.rheumatology.org/Advocacy/Affiliate_Society_Council/to find out more or e-mail ACR staff at stanner@rheumatology.org.

Message from the Government Affairs Committee

Dear Advocates,

I am proud to be able to work with the Government Affairs Committee on issues that span both the ACR and ARHP memberships. These issues include important access to care issues. I am pleased to report that the ACR is now working with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and other provider and patient groups to repeal the current cap placed on outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy services.

This arbitrary cap on therapy services was created in 1997 with the initiation of the Balanced Budget Act for the simple purpose of limiting federal spending, but without regard to quality of care or clinical considerations. Like the SGR, it was held at bay with 12 moratoriums until recent years, when both the cap was implemented and an important exceptions process became even more difficult. The cap has impacted patients seeking outpatient therapy services and more greatly affects patients with multiple or complicated diagnoses like arthritis. MedPAC cited in a 2009 report that the therapy cap could negatively impact 931,000 Medicare beneficiaries if enforced without an exceptions process.

Last month, Representatives Charles Boustany (LA-3), Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) and Lois Capps (CA-24) introduced H.R. 775, the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2015. A Senate companion bill, S. 539, was introduced shortly thereafter by Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Susan Collins (MN). This bicameral and bipartisan legislation would make a permanent fix to protect Medicare beneficiaries from the arbitrary therapy caps.

The ACR has signed onto a coalition of 50 organizations working to repeal the cap and has joined letters of support for the legislation. The therapy cap legislation aligns nicely with other ACR legislative issues relating to access to care and the repeal of SGR. Our organization strengthens the united physician and health professionals’ voice on Capitol Hill to make real progress on this issue. Senators Cardin and Collins cited the ACR, APTA and the coalition’s support in their press release upon introduction of the bill.

Please contact your legislators and voice your independent support of the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act. You can get help with your outreach through ACR staff by writing to advocacy@rheumatology.org.

Kim Kimpton, PT

Member, ACR Government Affairs Committee