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

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: April 7

Advocacy in Action

Advocacy Summit Highlights Importance of Surgeon Action to Affect Delivery of Surgical Care

Approximately 350 people attended this week’s ACS Advocacy Summit, both virtually and in Washington, DC, before participating in more than 150 virtual visits with Congressional lawmakers and their senior staff.

In her welcoming remarks, ACS Executive Director Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS, emphasized the integral role that surgeons play in the healthcare delivery system and encouraged attendees to talk with their representatives about how legislation affects their ability to provide optimal patient care.

Presentations during the Summit included updates on creating a National Trauma and Emergency Preparedness System, advancing healthy equity in surgery, disruptions in patient care resulting from ongoing threats to Medicare payments, and implementing the No Surprises Act.

On-demand access to the Summit presentations is available through Tuesday, July 5, for both previous registrants and new registrants.

Summit Attendees Show Strong Support for SurgeonsPAC

Surgeons actively contributed to the ACS Professional Association Political Action Committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) during this week’s Advocacy Summit. More than $50,000 was raised from 100 in-person and virtual attendees. The largest contributions came from:

  • Joshua A. Broghammer, MD, FACS
  • Danielle A. Katz, MD, FACS
  • Amy E. Liepert, MD, FACS
  • Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS
  • Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS
  • Jason P. Wilson, MD, MBA, FACS

Since its inception in 2002, SurgeonsPAC has remained committed to establishing relationships with federal policymakers willing to advocate for surgical health policy issues. For more information about SurgeonsPAC fundraising and disbursement efforts, contact Katie Oehmen, Senior Manager, Political and Grassroots Engagement at koehmen@facs.org.

Contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary, and all members of ACSPA have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC from accepting contributions from foreign nations. By law, if your contributions are made using a personal check or credit card, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC may only use your contribution to support candidates in federal elections. All corporate contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC will be used for educational and administrative fees of ACSPA and other activities permissible under federal law. Federal law requires ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC is a program of the ACSPA, which is exempt from federal income tax under section 501c (6) of the Internal Revenue Code.


On the Hill

Help Physician Lawmakers Gather Support for Payment Models Linked to Value

Reps. Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA), and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), are spearheading a congressional sign-on letter urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement alternative payment models (APMs) approved by the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) and develop new quality measures that reflect the complex, team-based nature of modern healthcare delivery. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) was intended to more closely link payment to value, but CMS has failed to use the authority it was granted to test PTAC-approved APMs or make use of flexibility in developing quality measures. The result is that surgeons continue to be assessed on quality measures unrelated to surgical care and have limited opportunities to participate in value-based payment arrangements. 

For more information, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Health Policy Advisor, at czlatos@facs.org.

House Passes Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act

The US House of Representatives this week passed H.R. 1916, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA). This legislation would address issues that prevent access to necessary diagnosis and treatment for patients with congenital craniofacial anomalies such as cleft lip and palate, skeletal and maxillofacial abnormalities, facial paralysis, microtia, hypodontia, and craniosynostosis. Many private health insurance companies cover the preliminary procedures related to these conditions but routinely deny or delay follow-up or corrective procedures, claiming that they are cosmetic in nature. ELSA would require all private group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary services that repair or restore a patient’s anomaly. The ACS joined a group letter in support of the bill last year and will continue to advocate for final passage.

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

Senate Introduces Resolution in Honor of CoC Centennial

This 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. In honor of the occasion and in recognition of the landmark CoC accomplishments, Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced S.Res. 566, which recognizes the 100th anniversary of the CoC and the importance of CoC-accredited programs in ensuring comprehensive, high-quality, patient-centered cancer care. The resolution is a companion to H.Res. 997, which was introduced in March by Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Mike Kelly (R-PA).

Take Action: Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor S.Res. 566/H.Res. 997 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the CoC. Read more about the CoC’s 100th anniversary on the special ACS website commemorating the milestone.

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


State Affairs

ACS California Chapters Testify in Support of STOP THE BLEED® Trauma Kits

Amy Liepert, MD, FACS, demonstrated the value of surgeon advocacy on behalf of patients this week. On behalf of ACS California chapters, she testified this past Tuesday before the California Assembly Health Committee in support of legislation (AB 2260) that which would mandate the installation of bleeding control trauma kits in buildings and public places. During her testimony, Dr. Liepert, who is the medical director of acute care surgery at the University of California San Diego Health, demonstrated the practical use of the bleeding control kit if a person suffers a traumatic injury.

After her testimony, the Assembly Health Committee voted 13−0 to advance the bill.

The ACS California chapters organized a coalition of physician and trauma groups in support AB 2260. Read the coalition letter submitted to the committee.

Help Expand Coverage of Diagnostic Screening Mammograms

An estimated 220,000 women in the US are diagnosed annually with breast cancer. More than 40,000 will die. Unsurprisingly, breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer and second-leading cause of death among US women. Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), all insurance plans are required to cover screening mammograms every 2 years for women aged 50 and older and as recommended by a healthcare provider for women 40−49 years old.

However, if an abnormality is found during the screening, the exam may be billed as a diagnostic mammogram or a diagnostic follow-up appointment may be scheduled. Although insurance companies must cover routine breast cancer screenings, federal law does not require them to cover diagnostic exams. If an abnormality is found during the routine screening, patients may experience unexpected costs. Diagnostic mammograms can be expensive and cause women to delay or skip follow-up testing. The average cost of a diagnostic mammogram can range from $172 under Medicare to $239 with private insurance.

Passing state legislation that mandates insurance providers cover diagnostic breast cancer screenings without cost-sharing requirements is a state policy priority for the ACS Commission on Cancer (CoC).

As of this week, 22 active diagnostic breast cancer screening bills are under consideration in:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia (Georgia Senate Bill 487 recently passed the House)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin

If you live in one of these states, contact the ACS State Affairs team for help with letters, testimony, and/or grassroots support. For more information on specific legislation or to engage in state advocacy, contact Christopher Johnson at cjohnson@facs.org or Rebecca King at rebeccaking@facs.org.

So far, only six states have expanded coverage, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, and Texas.

View the full list of cancer bills that the ACS is tracking at Cancer State Legislation 2022.