Washington and You

AUA lobbies USPSTF on draft research planThe U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which in 2012 recommended against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer, is developing a new research plan for updating recommendations that urology practices will be expected to follow once it is finalized.
Budget deal cuts pay to hospital-owned practicesThere was generally positive news for Medicare providers in the new 2-year budget agreement signed into law by President Obama Nov. 2 as well as the 2016 physician fee schedule just released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But hospital-owned physician practices will take a hit under the budget deal, and urologists will see an ever-so-slight average decrease in payments for their services under the new fee schedule.
Health research agency could be eliminatedWith the U.S. now spending nearly 18% of its gross domestic product on health care, Congress has targeted for drastic budget cuts the one agency of the government whose sole purpose is to improve the health care system.
CMS targets ‘misvalued’ urology codes in ruleThe first annual Medicare physician fee schedule rule in the post-sustainable growth rate era has been proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and includes several provisions of specific interest to urologists, including attention to certain services that are considered misvalued by the agency and some modifications to Stark law regulations.
Proposed budget would cut PCa programsCongress doesn’t appear to like very much President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposal to eliminate funding for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activities that are focused on education about prostate cancer screening and treatment, as well as tracking disease incidence and mortality data.
House votes to repeal Medicare pay panelThe Independent Payment Review Board appears to be headed out of existence, much to the pleasure of much of the provider community—including urologists.
New initiative would speed FDA approvalsDespite the common perception of Congress being filled with a bunch of politically obsessed do-nothings, there actually is a determined and dedicated group of lawmakers and staff assistants who are working practically 24-7 to develop a sweeping new initiative that would help speed drug and device approvals and increase funding for new drug innovation.
So long, SGR: Congress (finally) repeals formulaFinally, I can stop writing about the Medicare SGR formula and efforts to reform it, and you can stop worrying about whether you’re going to get whacked with untenable payment cuts about this time every year.
Urology groups reiterate support for USPSTF billThe major organizations representing urologists are continuing their push for congressional approval of legislation designed to reform the operations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which in May 2012 recommended against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer.
Congress, White House pressing for SGR repealHave the stars finally become aligned in such a way that Congress resolves the perennial Medicare physician fee fiasco? The signs seem to point that way.