Washington and You

Congress cuts coverage for erection devicesJust over a year ago, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report declaring that Medicare payments for vacuum erection systems were “grossly excessive” and recommended steps to remedy the situation.
Fate of IPAB may rest with Supreme CourtYou can expect the new Congress, now controlled in both the House and Senate by Republicans, to take a shot at repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Could GOP majority scuttle SGR reform?Even with the GOP more firmly entrenched on Capitol Hill, a permanent fix of the sustainable growth rate formula is still a possibility, say urologist James Ulchaker, MD, and Brad Stine of the AUA.
Prostate cancer council bill earns AUA supportThe effort to draw attention to the importance of prostate cancer detection was given a big boost in September when conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AR) and liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) joined together to sponsor legislation to create the National Prostate Cancer Council.
‘Open Payments’ moves forward despite snagsPhysicians, including urologists, now have another headache to deal with—making certain information about them published on the Internet by as part of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program (Open Payments) is accurate and not misleading to patients who want to know about the financial benefits their doctors receive from manufacturers of drugs, devices, and biologic and medical supplies.
Report questions doc shortage; AUA concernedA July 29 report by the Institute of Medicine on reforming the nation’s graduate medical education program has struck a nerve with the AUA and other medical societies by questioning the seriousness of continuing physician shortages in the United States.
Proposed EHR rule offers ‘breathing room’Important developments that could have an impact on urology practices include an attempt by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide more flexibility for providers in how they use certified EHR technology to meet meaningful use requirements and be eligible for program payments as well as proposed revisions to the FDA's “Guidance for Industry: Distributing Scientific and Medical Publications on Unapproved New Uses—Recommended Practices.”
AUA pushes for USPSTF reform, coverage for PSATwo years ago in May, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer, asserting that “many men are harmed as a result of prostate cancer screening and few, if any, benefit.”
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.