Vol.2, #3
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Association of Black Cardiologists - Policy Pulse


Recent Health Disparities Briefings in Washington, DC
Contributed by Summit Health Care Consulting Exclusively for ABC
On September 7, the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) held a briefing entitled "Strategies to Reduce Health Disparities."  Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, President and CEO of NHMA, provided a history of the Office of Minority Health, which was created in 1986 after the publication of the Secretary’s Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health (Heckler Report). Its mission is to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities.
Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA) shared the many barriers to health equity: Cost, transportation, lack of clinics and not enough doctors in poor communities, cultural community and health awareness, understanding differences in socioeconomic status and gender, and understanding one’s world view and context is different than others. He explained there is a need for creating medical schools and residencies in underserved areas because doctors will tend to practice where they are from or where they are trained. Rep. Ruiz noted that a bill he and Rep. Joe Heck, MD (R-NV) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) led, the Accessing Higher Education Opportunities Act (H.R. 5529), will help students at Hispanic-serving Institutions pursue a career as a physician, dentist, or other health care professional and enhance existing support for Hispanic students pursuing their education.

On September 20, The Hill newspaper hosted a discussion titled, “Access to Care: A Discussion on Health Disparities & Innovation.”  What policy reforms are needed to minimize socioeconomic and regional disparities in healthcare delivery? How can the combination of innovative new treatments and public health outreach facilitate prevention, early detection and improved outcomes? What would it mean for the overall state of our society to eliminate chronic conditions, like cardiovascular disease? Watch the full event video here.


Statement by Secretary Burwell on the Uninsured Rate
Under the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s uninsured rate dropped in the first quarter of the year to 8.6 percent – the lowest level on record.

FYI - Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the nondiscrimination provision


CMS Acting Director Pledges Flexibility with New Payment System Roll-Out 
Contributed by Summit Health Care Consulting

On Sept. 8, 2016, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt acknowledged the concerns expressed by the medical community and by lawmakers regarding the implementation timeline for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and pledged that the final regulations will offer more flexibility for physicians.
MACRA, passed by Congress in 2015, repealed the Medicare sustainable growth rate physician payment formula and replaced it with a new payment system that represents a framework for rewarding providers for giving better care rather than more care. Physicians and other providers paid under the physician fee schedule can choose one of two paths to payment:  the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or participation in an alternative payment model (APM). Fee schedule payments will be tied to this new system beginning in 2019, although the performance period starts next year.
Final MACRA regulations are now under review by the Office of Management and Budget and could be released any day.  Because there will be little transition time for physicians between publication of final regulations and the 2017 performance year, Administrator Slavitt announced that for 2017, CMS is going to allow physicians to “pick their pace” of transitioning to the new payment system.
Physicians will be exempt from a payment penalty in 2019 if they choose any one of the following options:
  • Submit some MIPS information, including data from after Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Submit MIPS information for a reduced number of days and potentially qualify for a small positive payment adjustment.
  • Submit information for a full calendar year and potentially quality for a modest positive payment adjustment.
  • Join an APM in 2017 and if enough Medicare payments or patients through the APM, qualify for a 5% incentive payment in 2019.
Go here for more details about these various participation options. Get a quick look at MACRA here.

CMS BLOG: Delivering coordinated, high quality care for patients 

PCSK9 Drug Regresses Coronary Plaque  

Minorities Less Likely to Get Clot-Clearing Stroke Drug

For Aging Blacks, 'Golden Years' Often Marred by Disability 

Summit Health Care Consulting Joins ABC Community
Effective Sept. 1, 2016, Camille Bonta and Geoff Werth of Summit Health Care Consulting will assume the role of ABC’s health policy and advocacy gurus. With roughly 50 years of combined Capitol Hill and health policy experience, Ms. Bonta and Mr. Werth will guide ABC through policy priority setting, spearhead ABC’s advocacy campaigns, and represent ABC on Capitol Hill.
Ms. Bonta started her boutique health policy consulting business in 2007 after 11 years at the American College of Cardiology, serving as its chief lobbyist. Ms. Bonta started her career in politics and health care policy working on Capitol Hill for former U.S. Senator John Glenn during the peak of Clinton Administration’s health care reform efforts.
Mr. Werth joined Summit Health Care Consulting in 2014. Mr. Werth spent seven years on Capitol Hill as an aide and policy advisor to former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Following his tenure on the Hill, Mr. Werth worked for the American College of Surgeons and McKesson Specialty Health / The US Oncology Network.
“Geoff and I are excited by the opportunity to advance ABC’s mission through smart and effective policies. We look forward to getting to know the organization and working with ABC members to reduce health care disparities in this country,” said Ms. Bonta.
Ms. Bonta and Mr. Werth will be attending meetings ABC leaders in October and will serve as frequent contributors to Policy Pulse.

CBC Health Braintrust Discusses the Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials
On September 16, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust held a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on the importance of diversity in clinical trials. Waverly Gordon, professional staffer for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, led a discussion regarding the continued lack of diversity in clinical trials and invited panelists to discuss the important steps being taken to address this problem. 

HHS Takes Steps to Provide More Information About Clinical Trials to the Public

On September 16, in an effort to make information about clinical trials widely available to the public, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule specifying requirements for registering and reporting summary results information to ClinicalTrials.gov.  Find out more here.

Study compares CV risk reduction of statin vs nonstatin therapies used for lowering LDL-C  (JAMA, DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.13985)


Hear first-hand from the FDA and industry how shifting US demographics and a renewed focus on diversity in clinical research will impact sites, and what tools are available to meet enrollment diversity expectations.

Panel includes FDA Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health Marsha Henderson, and ABC members Ola Akinboboye, MD and Luther Clark, MD. 

Click here for information about FDA's Scientific Interview and Career Fair

Copyright © 2016 Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc, All rights reserved.

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