Washington and You

Expect federal scrutiny of RUC to intensifyThe law signed April 1 that avoided the slated 24% Medicare physician payment cut for this year will intensify federal scrutiny of the current system for valuing specific medical services, a procedure that is at the heart of how much doctors get paid.
SGR patch includes ‘troubling’ provisionThe latest SGR patch includes a provision that instructs Medicare officials to review the value of some procedures and sets a target for reductions of misvalued codes, which has drawn the criticism of organized urology.
Political battles rule in debate over SGR repealNew AUA Director of Government Relations and Advocacy Brad Stine intends to advocate for the AUA’s SGR policy: to gain affirmative repeal of the formula that has proven so troublesome over the years for urologists, whose patient population includes a large percentage of Medicare enrollees.
AUA legislative priorities: One down, nine to goWhile the AUA is pleased with the passing of its urotrauma legislation, the organization has several other legislative goals for 2014.
‘Open Payments’: Has CMS gone too far?As all too often is the case, the feds can’t just stop with implementing the law in a common sense way; they seem to take it to an extreme.
Latest SGR fix proposal draws AUA criticismCongress may be ready to trade in the SGR for a VBP and an APM to fix the difficult physician fee schedule situation that has plagued urologists and other Medicare physicians for a decade. But while the AUA wants the SGR to go away, the organization has significant reservations about this latest plan.
SGR fix may also help preserve Stark exceptionIt appears that Congress is finally determined to provide a permanent solution to the annual Medicare fee payment crisis, and there is a possibility that the process also could reduce pressure to end an exception to the Stark self-referral law upon which many urologists have come to rely.
AUA protests proposed CMS payment capsWhile it is still unclear whether and how Congress will reform the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula in time to avoid a 25% payment cut beginning in January, many physician groups, including the AUA, are adamantly opposed to another key component of the proposed 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.
The clock is ticking for passing SGR reformFor the first time since the Medicare fee schedule crisis began after the sustainable growth rate formula was included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, there is realistic hope that Congress will reform the way Medicare physicians are paid for their services.
AUA, allies critical of GAO self-referral reportMajor organizations representing urology are livid at the conclusions of a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which basically accuses urology practices with in-office intensity-modulated radiation therapy facilities of ripping off Medicare.