RheumWATCH Archives


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


ACR RheumWATCH: February 4, 2016

Meaningful Use Deadline Approaching - Sign Up Now to Avoid Financial Penalties

Per Meaningful Use guidelines, objectives now include the requirement that eligible providers actively engage with a public health agency to submit electronic public health data. Rheumatologists must sign up for at least two of three registries by February 29 in order to avoid financial penalties. The three choices for registries include the Immunization Registry, the Syndromic Surveillance Registry and a specialized registry. The ACR’s RISE Registry meets the specialized registry specification.

RISE is an EHR-enabled registry that has captured data on more than one million patient encounters and is one of the largest rheumatology patient registries in the country. Participation in RISE is free and registration is simple.

To learn more about how the RISE Registry can help with Meaningful Use attestation, please contact ACR staff at RISE@rheumatology.org.

ACR Provides Chronic Care Recommendations and Comments on RAC Audits

The ACR recently provided detailed comments to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee regarding policy options to improve care and outcomes for Medicare patients with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The ACR also recently provided comments to CMS responding to questions about the use of Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) for Medicare Advantage.

The chronic care policy options were floated by the Chronic Care Working Group, spearheaded by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Mark Warner (D-VW), along with the Finance chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

If you are interested in getting involved in advocacy and policy efforts to improve the rheumatology practice environment and patient access to treatments and care, please contact the ACR advocacy team at advocacy@rheumatology.org.

Block Meaningful Use Penalties; How to Apply for an MU Exemption

Last month, the ACR, AMA and other groups were successful in efforts to allow an expedited exception process for Meaningful Use. Congress passed and President Obama signed into law S. 2425, the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, which allows CMS to provide a blanket hardship exemption from 2015 Meaningful Use penalties to providers who apply for the exemption. The exemption would prevent financial penalties scheduled to be applied in 2017.

The ACR recommends that all members subject to the Meaningful Use program apply for the hardship exemption. CMS has said it will broadly accept hardship exemptions because of delays in the posting of related regulations. Additionally, applying for the hardship will not prevent members from receiving an MU incentive; it merely protects from the assessment of penalties.

CMS must receive your exemption application by March 15, 2016. The AMA has created step-by-step instructions in a MU Hardship Exemption Fact Sheet.

Message from the RheumPAC Chair

Harry L. Gewanter, MD, FAAP, FACR Thanks to the support of ACR/ARHP members, RheumPAC’s fundraising for 2015 exceeded both our listed goal of $140,000 as well as our stretch goal of $150,000. We raised $151,368 from 346 members, both new records! We disbursed $135,000 to rheumatology’s champion legislators as well.

While these are fabulous results, none of us on the committee is truly happy or satisfied with how we are doing. We still have less than 5% of the ACR and ARHP membership underwriting the work that benefits our more than 7,500 U.S. members. Everyone in the ACR and ARHP leadership is committed to improving the participation of ACR and ARHP members, and I hope you will as well.

If each person can enlist just one more member to invest in their personal and professional future through RheumPAC, we can do even more to improve the lives of everyone with rheumatic diseases and those of us who care for them. While I absolutely want to raise more funds, I truly want more participation at whatever level each person feels comfortable.

The committee is looking into a number of ways to facilitate the process of investing in RheumPAC, and I will update you on the progress of these initiatives moving forward. Please feel free to contact me and our RheumPAC team at rheumpac@rheumatology.org with any and all suggestions, questions, etc.

I want to thank each one of you for your past help, and look forward to all of us doing more in the future.

Harry L. Gewanter, MD, FAAP, FACR
Chair, RheumPAC