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WASHINGTON (Oct 19, 2015) -
The American College of Cardiology will bring over 400 members of the cardiovascular care team to Capitol Hill on Oct. 20 to speak with lawmakers about a variety of issues facing health care providers and their patients. These visits are the culmination of the ACC's 2015 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
Issues ACC members will discuss with lawmakers include: cosponsoring a cardiac rehabilitation bill pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate, promoting the usability of electronic health records, increasing funding for medical research, and working with medical specialty societies and federal agencies to implement the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
"Heart disease touches everyone - whether through someone we know or as one of the 26 million adults diagnosed with heart disease. The American College of Cardiology urges Congress to address issues impacting public health - including more usable and interconnected electronic health records, improved access to cardiac rehabilitation and increased funding for medical research," said American College of Cardiology President Kim Allan Williams Sr., M.D., FACC.
Cosponsor Cardiac Rehabilitation Legislation
Members of the cardiovascular care team are asking lawmakers to cosponsor - and pass - H.R. 3355/S. 488, a bill that would expand patients' access to crucial services by allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac, intensive cardiac, and pulmonary rehabilitation. When compared to the supervision requirements for other outpatient services, the requirement for direct physician supervision for cardiac rehabilitation under current law is inappropriately and unnecessarily more stringent. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners supervise a number of outpatient services, including infusion and hyperbaric oxygen therapies. The direct physician supervision requirement unnecessarily increases the cost of rehabilitation services and makes it challenging for rehabilitation programs to operate in areas where physicians are scarce.
Promote Electronic Health Record Usability
Electronic health records are an important tool in the effort to provide patients with better, more efficient care. That is why ACC members will urge members of Congress to utilize the expertise and experience of medical specialty societies to promote the usability of electronic health records. Medical societies, including the ACC, stand ready to help Congress establish effective, clinically relevant electronic health record standards. The ACC and its members support the recommendation by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology that electronic health record certification require the product be reviewed by a 15 person panel that includes clinicians. The ACC also feels Congress needs to promote transparency in vendor contracts by making "gag" or "non-disclosure" clauses illegal.
Increase Funding for Medical Research
For 12 years the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget has remained flat, representing more than a decade in lost scientific discoveries and potential life-saving research. This year, Congress has shown widespread support for medical research. In particular, members of the ACC thank the House of Representatives for passing the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides nearly $9 billion in new mandatory funding for the NIH and over $500 million in new funding for the Food and Drug Administration. During visits to Capitol Hill, ACC members will encourage the Senate to follow the House of Representatives' lead to increase funding for these important agencies. The entire medical community relies on continual research supported by the NIH and therapies reviewed by the FDA to make informed decisions and provide cutting-edge care for patients.
Work with Stakeholders on MACRA
ACC members on Capitol Hill will join the entire house of medicine in thanking all members of Congress who voted in favor of MACRA. They will also urge Congress to work with the federal agencies to develop alternative payment models that allow clinicians to provide the most effective and efficient care to their patients. Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should work with medical specialty societies to ensure the implementation of MACRA is not administratively burdensome and does not interfere with the delivery of high-quality cardiovascular care.
"Through these visits to Capitol Hill, we hope to provide lawmakers with information to give them a better understanding of the issues facing the cardiovascular community so they can make informed decisions on these issues," said M. Eugene Sherman, M.D., FACC, chair of the American College of Cardiology's Advocacy Steering Committee.
Through its advocacy efforts, the ACC strives to create a value-driven health care system, ensure patient access to care, ensure cardiovascular practice stability, promote the use of clinical data to improve care, foster research and innovation in cardiovascular care, improve population health, and prevent cardiovascular disease.
The American College of Cardiology is a 49,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit www.acc.org.