RheumWATCH Archives


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


ACR RheumWATCH: April 21, 2016

Urgent: Share Your Opinion with CMS on Part B Drug Payment Demo

CMS wants to hear from you regarding its proposed demonstration that would change payments for Part B drugs. While many organizations, including the ACR, will comment by the May 9 deadline, CMS especially wants to receive the real-word perspectives of physicians and practices when it comes to the potential effects of its wide-reaching proposal. We urge you to take part and write a letter and submit it to CMS, as feedback from individuals will be vital to the process.

In particular, it would be helpful for the agency to receive data and scenarios illustrating your current experience with buying and billing under ASP+6 minus the sequester, your current situation in providing Part B treatments to patients, and your projections of the effects on patient access if they were to modify the reimbursement formula to ASP+2.5% minus the sequester plus a per-day infusion payment, among the other proposals.

You can read the proposal and a synopsis. Remember to submit comments to CMS online or by mail to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-1670-P, P.O. Box 8016, Baltimore, MD 21244-8016 by May 9 at 5:00 PM ET. You can also weigh in with your members of Congress through the ACR’s Legislative Action Center.

Sign Up for RISE Today!

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. RISE can be used to capture and report PQRS data as well as fulfill Meaningful Use objective 10. Participation in RISE is free and registration is simple.

To learn more about how the RISE Registry can benefit your practice, please contact ACR staff at RISE@rheumatology.org.

Now is the Time to Give to RheumPAC for 2016

Congressman Cuellar and Drs. Lakhanpal and Molina at Texas annual meeting
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), RheumPAC contribution recipient, with
rheumatologists Sharad Lakhanpal, MD, and Rudy Molina, MD at Texas annual meeting

2015 was a record year for rheumatology’s political action committee, RheumPAC. You now can read about your PAC’s activities and champion lawmakers and see the list of donors in the Annual Report. The significant issues facing rheumatology professionals and practices have only escalated in 2016, and we need your help! Give your 2016 donation now.

Message from the RheumPAC Chair

Harry Gewanter, MD, FAAP, FACRDear Friends and Colleagues,

With your strong support and commitment, RheumPAC has grown again for the eighth straight year, allowing us to do even more on your behalf. Not only did we exceed our original goal by raising more than $150,000, more importantly, these donations came from nearly 350 ACR and ARHP members, also a new record. We were able to disburse $137,500 to our targeted Congressional candidates throughout the country who have or are in a position to further rheumatology’s goals as champions for our subspecialty.

This generous support allowed us to facilitate the work of the College through the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), our advocacy team and the numerous ACR and ARHP members who are personally involved in working with our political leaders on many critical issues facing us and our patients. Before I provide you with additional details of our many successes in 2015, remember that 2016 is an even bigger and more important year for the ACR, our profession and rheumatology-related policy issues. It is, therefore, vital that we not rest on our laurels, but continue to expand member participation, as well as our total contributions.

The generous support throughout 2015 came from members of both the ACR and the ARHP. We saw expansion in both the members of our Leadership Circle (contributors of $2,000 or more, p. 6 of the Annual Report, as well as the rest of the membership. Our average donation was more than $380, with a range of $5.00 to $4,000, showing that each member donated what they could. Not only did we have contributions from every single member of the Board of Directors, the GAC, the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, and the ARHP Executive Committee, but the entire ACR and ARHP leadership strongly supported and assisted in furthering our mission.

RheumPAC did more than just badger everyone for donations in 2015. We revitalized our branding and showed off the result on the distinctive hats worn throughout the 2015 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We maintained our history of distributing patriotic red, white and blue RheumPAC-branded M&Ms to our contributors. In conjunction with the GAC, we provided a legislative update and hosted a special breakfast for donors at the Annual Meeting. We had 119 donors contribute at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, who were further encouraged through a challenge by 19 rheumatology leaders to match $1–5 for every donation, resulting in more than $6,000 of additional RheumPAC investments.

Although we are clearly focused on the number of dollars raised, the money is just a measure of the membership’s interest in and support of our collective policy needs and goals. The RheumPAC Committee expends great effort in determining which members of Congress will be granted financial support. We are absolutely nonpartisan in our decision making and donate only to those who have supported the goals of the ACR in the past or are in a position to do so in the current Congress. This allows RheumPAC investors to feel secure that our professional policy issues are being supported and advocated. Although contributions may go to individuals with whom a member disagrees on a certain issue, this process is about developing relationships and facilitating our ability to influence the agendas in Washington on behalf of our patients and ourselves. No contribution is made without the robust thought, explanation and discussion of our committed RheumPAC members and ACR advocacy staff.

I assume that everyone else is as tired as I am of the nonstop campaign rhetoric and cannot wait for November so we may have a brief respite from the din of demagoguery. Unfortunately, that does not mean we can be absent from the process and, in fact, emphasizes the need for more of our membership to be involved.

The committee has established goals that, at first blush, may seem unattainable, but I believe they are absolutely possible. We want our percentage of contributors to increase from under 4% of membership to 10% of membership in the coming years. Although the amount of each donation is important (and more is obviously better), we are focused on encouraging any level of engagement in RheumPAC by more of our membership.

We plan to create more local opportunities for our members to meet their members of Congress and personally present our donations. This is an underestimated, but exceptional opportunity for each of us to educate, inform and assist our elected officials in understanding the effects of their decisions on our lives, our businesses and the lives of our patients—their constituents.

On behalf of the RheumPAC Committee and the ACR, we thank you for your past support and look forward to working with you to make 2016 our best year yet.

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