American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: March 24

On the Hill

Spending Package Signed into Law with ACS Priorities

President Biden signed an omnibus appropriations package March 11 that funds the government through September 30. In addition to $2 million in first-time funding the for the MISSION ZERO program, the spending bill includes funds for several American College of Surgeons (ACS)-supported priorities, including the following.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The bill allocates $108.3 billion to HHS, an $11.3 billion increase from the FY 2021 enacted level.

  • Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) – The bill includes $1 billion to establish ARPA-H within the HHS Office of the Secretary to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The bill provides $45 billion in funding for NIH, a $2.25 billion increase from the FY 2021 enacted level.
    • The bill includes an increase of at least 3.4% for each institute and center to support a range of biomedical and behavioral research activities, as well as targeted investments in several high-priority areas, including:
      • $6.9 billion, an increase of $353 million from the FY 2021 enacted level, for the National Cancer Institute, including $194 million for the Cancer Moonshot
      • $12.5 million to continue firearm injury and mortality prevention research

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The bill allocates $8.5 billion to the CDC, an increase of $582 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.

  • Increased funding for public health initiatives, including:
    • $200 million in a new, flexible funding stream for public health infrastructure and capacity nationwide
    • $100 million, an increase of $50 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, to modernize public health data surveillance and analytics at CDC and state and local health departments
    • $61 million, an increase of $5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, in public health workforce initiatives
    • $180 million, an increase of $5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for the National Center for Health Statistics
    • $715 million, an increase of $20 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for public health emergency preparedness cooperative agreements
  • $389.8 million, an increase of $5 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
  • $12.5 million to continue firearm injury and mortality prevention research

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
The bill includes $8.9 billion for HRSA, an increase of $1.4 billion above the 2021 enacted level.

  • $1.3 billion, an increase of $72 million above the FY 2021 enacted level, for HRSA Bureau of Health Professions programs to support health workforce development, including:
    • $5 million to establish the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
ACS Operation Giving Back successfully secured report language for neglected surgical conditions around the world, which reads:

The USAID Administrator shall support efforts to strengthen surgical health capacity to address such health issues as cleft lip and cleft palate, club foot, cataracts, hernias, fistulas, and untreated traumatic injuries in underserved areas in developing countries, including in contexts without water or electricity. Strengthening surgical health systems includes the training of local surgical teams and assisting ministries of health to develop and implement national surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anesthesia plans. Not later than 90 days after enactment of the Act, the USAID Administrator shall brief the Committees on Appropriations on the planned uses of funds for these purposes in fiscal year 2022.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act Signed into Law

On Friday, March 18, President Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act into law. The law aims to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals.

In April 2020, Lorna M. Breen, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died by suicide, highlighting the unprecedented mental health and well-being challenges facing surgeons, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

Little could prepare healthcare workers for their experiences in treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. With stressed healthcare systems, best practices unavailable to meet the demands, and the emotional, financial physical, and psychological toll healthcare providers absorbed, it became evident that mental health concerns and suicidal ideation needed to be addressed at a systems level with support from the community.

The law establishes grants and requires other activities to improve mental and behavioral health among healthcare providers. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must award grants to hospitals, medical professional associations, and other healthcare entities for programs to promote mental health and resilience among healthcare providers, including medical students, residents, and other professionals.

The ACS, which has supported the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act since its formative stages, thanks all Fellows who helped to advocate for its passage through SurgeonsVoice and meetings with their members of Congress. Contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org for more information.

Lawmakers Introduce Resolution in Honor of CoC Centennial

2022 year marks the 100th anniversary of the ACS Commission on Cancer (CoC), a consortium of more than 50 cancer-related organizations dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard setting, which promotes cancer prevention, research, education, and monitoring of comprehensive quality care. In honor of the occasion, Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Mike Kelly (R-PA), Co-Chairs of the House of Representatives Cancer Caucus, introduced H.R. 997, “Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the importance of Commission on Cancer-accredited programs in ensuring comprehensive, high-quality, patient-centered cancer care.” The resolution is a testament to the laudable work of the CoC and an important opportunity for members of Congress to voice their support for the program.

Visit SurgeonsVoice to urge your member of Congress to cosponsor H.R. 997 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the CoC.

For more information, contact Emma Zimmerman, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at ezimmerman@facs.org.

ACS Submits Feedback to ASPR National Health Security Strategy

The ACS submitted feedback March 11 on the 2022–2026 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) to the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within HHS. The NHHS informs work around health security threats, challenges, and promising practices that may warrant being addressed by ASPR in the near future.

The ACS’s feedback focused on the need to increase coordination in emergency preparedness and response and to elevate Medical Operations Coordination Centers, which were particularly successful in managing the surge in patients during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the ACS suggests that ASPR convene private and public stakeholders to develop, implement, and sustain a National Trauma and Emergency Preparedness System structure that brings together emergency management, public health, and trauma centers to enable timely response, resource sharing, and efficient casualty care.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.


State Affairs

Healthcare Coalition, Including ACS, Supports Prostate Cancer Screening Coverage in Illinois

The ACS signed a coalition letter, along with the American Urological Association and other professional organizations, in support of Illinois H. B. 5318, which would require health insurers to provide coverage for prostate cancer screening without imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other patient cost-sharing requirement. The Illinois House of Representatives has already passed the legislation,, and it scheduled for a hearing in the Illinois Senate Insurance Committee on March 23. Similar bills have been introduced in California and Virginia.

Click here to view a copy of the Illinois letter.

ACS Shows Support for Bleeding Control Kits in California Public Buildings

The ACS sent a letter of support for California Assembly Bill 2260, authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-52). The legislation would require the installation of bleeding control kits in buildings and public places in the same manner that California requires that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) be available for public access in buildings. The California Senate passed an identical bill in 2021, S. B. 687, sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso. The California chapters of the ACS will be advocating for the bill at their state advocacy day April 19 at the capitol.

Click here to view a copy of the ACS letter on SB 2260.

Idaho’s Tobacco 21 Bill Sent to Governor

Idaho S. B. 1284 was delivered to the desk of Gov. Brad Little March 17 for signature. If signed, the bill will amend existing law to raise the current age from 18 to 21 years old in Idaho to legally possess and use tobacco products. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide and leads to more than $300 billion in healthcare and lost worker productivity costs each year.

The federal minimum age for tobacco use was raised to 21 years old at the end of 2019. Regardless, states need to enact their own Tobacco 21 laws so that tobacco retailers have enforcement guidelines and regulations. To date, 34 states have implemented their own Tobacco 21 laws. As a 2022 policy priority for the CoC, the ACS is monitoring 17 additional state bills in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The full list of state cancer bills that the ACS is tracking can be found online:

Cancer State Legislation 2022


Regulatory Updates

Reminder: MIPS 2021 Data Submission Period Open through March 31

The data submission period for Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible clinicians who participated in the 2021 performance year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) is now open. Data can be submitted and updated until 8:00 pm ET March 31, 2022.

To submit your MIPS data, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Quality Payment Program web page.
  2. Sign in using your QPP access credentials.
  3. Submit your MIPS data for the 2021 performance year or review the data reported on your behalf by a third party.

Surgeons who are unsure if they are eligible to participate in the QPP can check their final eligibility status using the QPP Participation Status Tool.

CMS offers multiple resources, including those listed below, to help clinicians submit data in the QPP Resource Library:

Surgeons with questions about submitting their MIPS 2021 performance year data can reach out to QualityDC@facs.org. Surgeons can also contact the CMS directly at 1-866-288-8292, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am–8:00 pm ET, or by email at QPP@cms.hhs.gov.

Attend ACS On-Demand CPT Coding Courses

The ACS has partnered with KarenZupko & Associates in offering on-demand courses to help you and your coding staff stay on top of changes in Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding and documentation. In recognition of ongoing travel restrictions or travel hesitancy, these 60-to 90-minute courses are offered virtually and on-demand, allowing participants to learn without travel and at a self-determined pace.

The courses will help surgeons, practice administrators, managers, coders, and reimbursement staff ensure accurate, consistent, and complete coding. The following on-demand courses are available:

  • Office E/M Coding for Surgeons
  • Avoid Denials! Code Hospital Services Correctly!
  • Critical Care Coding and Documentation—2022 Update
  • Office Procedures—Document and Code Them Right

Each course is eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, and discounts are available for team members or practice employees of ACS Fellows. Visit the KZA website or call 312-642-8310 to learn more about each course and register. For additional information, contact Celia Torres at ctorres@facs.org