By Bill Donovan, MD, MPH, FACR
In lieu of an original article you might not have the time or inclination to read in these troubled times, here is a short list of items and updates that may be of interest.
- Announced 3/28/20: Financial relief for MDs from CMS was included in the CARES act: “In order to increase cash flow to providers of services and suppliers impacted by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded our current Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to a broader group of Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers.” Fact sheet with instructions here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/Accelerated-and-Advanced-Payments-Fact-Sheet.pdf
- CMS relaxes MACRA regulatory policies: MIPS data submission deadline has been pushed back from March 31 to April 30, and MIPS-eligible clinicians who do not submit any data will receive a neutral payment adjustment for 2021 under an ‘uncontrollable circumstances’ policy. More info on this, as well as COVID coding updates (mostly related to telehealth, lab testing, and patient visits) at: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/cms-payment-policies-regulatory-flexibilities-during-covid-19 and at the AMA’s “General Resource Center:” https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/covid-19-2019-novel-coronavirus-resource-center-physicians
- ASNR signed-on AMA drafted letter to Congressional leadership regarding inclusion of support for physician practices in any economic stimulus package: https://dev.asnr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020-3-25-Congressional-Stimilus-Sign-On-letter.pdf
- You are all likely getting emails from various radiology societies with examples of COVID-19. Here is the ACR’s collation of clinical resources: https://www.acr.org/Clinical-Resources/COVID-19-Radiology-Resources
- Here is the link to AJR’s open-access collection: https://www.ajronline.org/topic/cov19?utm_source=informz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=roentgen+journal
- We hope you’ve reviewed this ahead-of-print AJNR article by Dr. Amit Mahajan and ASNR President-Elect, Dr. Josh Hirsch: What Neuroradiologists Need to Know: https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A6526
- ACR signed on to a multisociety letter urging Congress to waive the statutory budget-neutrality requirements for CMS spending in view of both the sweeping E&M coding changes and the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.acr.org/Advocacy-and-Economics/Advocacy-News/Advocacy-News-Issues/In-the-March-21-2020-Issue/Medical-Societies-Ask-Congress-to-Delay-E-and-M-Code-Proposal
- Despite intrepid efforts by many advocacy volunteers from ASNR and related societies over the past two years, late last fall Noridian adopted an LCD for vertebral augmentation excluding coverage for subacute fractures — a decision described as “completely off base” by Dr Doug Beall. He has been a passionate advocate for vertebral augmentation (VA) on behalf of ASNR, SIR, and the Multispecialty Pain Workgroup, of which ASNR is a member society. Unfortunately, other MACs have since followed suit with this odd determination; this despite the groundbreaking AJNR article published in December by Hirsch, Beall, et al., finding that it takes only 11 VA procedures to save 1 life over a five year period (DOI: https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A6367). Advocacy and appeals for reconsideration are ongoing nationwide. ASNR/ASSR recently signed-on a letter to Noridian regarding their LCD for Percutaneous Vertebral Augmentation: If you are interested in participating in this process – especially if you have familiarity with the MAC medical director in your area – please contact Rahul Bhala for more info.
- RUC and CPT go virtual: For the first time since the RBRVS meetings began in 1992, the spring meetings of both the CPT Editorial Panel and the RBRVS Update Committee will be held in virtual fashion later this month. Your ASNR volunteers and HPC staff Rahul Bhala will be in attendance online.
From all of us on the Health Policy Committee, stay safe, and keep in touch.