March 27, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy Health Care Reform Physician Leadership
A California Medical Association (CMA) contingent of two dozen physician and medical student leaders recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) National Advocacy Week. They met with 24 members of the California Congressional Delegation and top leadership of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to advocate for many health care issues critically important to California physicians.
While in Washington, California physicians focused on promoting the bipartisan Affordable Care Act (ACA) market stabilization bill that would reinstate the cost-sharing reduction payments and provide reinsurance funding, which together would reduce premiums by an estimated 20 percent. They also advocated for an immediate and permanent solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “Dreamers,” many of whom are medical students. They also insisted that the federal government needs to hold electronic health record (EHR) vendors accountable for interoperability.
CMA physicians aggressively pushed Congress and CMS to provide more Medicare and Medicaid regulatory relief and expressed our significant frustrations with the 0.25 percent Medicare payment cut slated for 2019. Although the cuts initially proposed were much worse, the 0.25 percent cut will reduce by half the 0.5 percent payment update guaranteed to doctors in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). CMA warned Congress that physicians could not meet the difficult MACRA quality and EHR reporting requirements without adequate resources. CMA is urging Congress to restore the 2016 and forthcoming 2019 Medicare payment cuts, and to fund payment increases going forward.
Much of the trip was dedicated to educating Congress and CMS about opioids. Congressional leaders are working on a comprehensive package to address the opioid crisis through prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts. CMA physicians also met with the CMS Medicare Part D team to express serious concerns with the proposed regulations limiting initial opioid prescriptions to three days for acute pain.
CMA thanks these physicians and medical students for taking the time away from their busy practices to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with Members of Congress and CMS on some very important issues.