3 pieces of legislation for ASC leaders to know

Health care continues to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill, so groups like the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association are working closely with Congress to educate its members about ASC issues and support legislation that supports patient access to ASCs. According to ASCA’s government affairs team, three pieces of legislation introduced this year are of special interest to ASCs.

"In today's changing times, ASC owners and operators have to be aware and engaged," said Marie Edler, MPH, vice president of Surgical Care Affiliates. "The value of presenting a knowledgeable and unified voice for the ASC community on Capitol Hill cannot be overstated."

ASC leaders can become involved in ASCA through direct lobbying, political action committees and grassroots programs.

Here are the three pieces of legislation to know:

Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality and Access Act
Known as the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality and Access Act of 2015 (H.R. 1453), this bill is intended to preserve patient access to the high quality, cost-effective healthcare services that ASCs provide by:

1. Changing CMS' ability to use different measures of inflation for ASCs and hospital outpatient departments when setting rates, unfairly penalizing the lower cost provider. This improvement aims to help prevent the migration of ASC procedures to the HOPD setting and encourage additional cost savings to Medicare and its beneficiaries.

2. Requiring transparency in quality reporting, as CMS would publish relevant quality data in a way that is accessible to patients.

3. Directing CMS to add a representative of the ASC community to its Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment.

4. Requiring CMS to disclose which criteria would render a procedure excluded from ASCs.

Electronic Health Fairness Act
The Electronic Health Fairness Act of 2015 (H.R. 887/S. 1354)aims to protect Medicare physicians who practice in ASCs by exempting patient encounters performed in ASCs from being counted toward meaningful use requirements in the Medicare program until certified EHR technology is actually available for the ASC setting. Additionally, this legislation would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to certify an EHR system for ASCs.

In an effort to address the challenges facing ASC-practicing physicians in the Medicare Electronic Health Records program, ASCA worked with Congressional supporters to draft and introduce this act. At the time of publication, the legislation has been passed by the full House and considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act
Also known as S. 624 / H.R. 1220, this legislation would alter federal law that requires Medicare beneficiaries to cover the cost of their copayment for a "free" screening colonoscopy when a polyp is discovered and removed during the procedure. The legislation has 101 supporters in the House and 13 in the Senate.

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