Encouraging Signs for Emergency Medicine

ACEP's Washington, DC Staff

ACEP's Washington, DC Staff

It is 2009 and we have a new administration, new impetus for health care reform and new hope for meaningful change. It seems everyone agrees that the current system is not sustainable, but that seems to be all anyone agrees on. Everything else is anybody’s guess.

ACEP has worked hard to include emergency medicine in the current debate. It has been a struggle, but fortunately, the ACEP-supported “Access to Emergency Medical Services Act of 2009” enjoys bipartisan support in the House and Senate. More than 120 legislators are now co-sponsors and ACEP continues to working closely with key legislators and their staffs to promote the legislation.

One very positive note was passed on by ACEP’s Washington, DC office yesterday. Legislative staff in the House and Senate have said that various provisions of the bill have been submitted to the committees writing the health care reform bills. That is very good news and it looks like the work of the thousands of ACEP members who have called, written and visited their members of Congress is starting to pay off.

Their efforts are part of a comprehensive three-pronged approach. First, there is a strong direct lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill by ACEP staff members, including Brad Gruehn, Jeanne Slade and Gordon Wheeler. This dovetails with a grass roots lobbying campaign supported by the 1350 members of the 911 Legislative Network. These ACEP and EMRA members have developed relationships with their Senators and House members and contact them regularly to relate ACEP’s positions on legislation and regulatory initiatives. In addition, hundreds of other ACEP and EMRA members have participated in ACEP’s “Contact Congress Campaign” and are demanding that emergency medicine’s issues be addressed in upcoming reform legislation.

The third part of this approach, and a key piece of ACEP’s ability to influence the debate, is the National Emergency Medical Political Action Committee, better known as NEMPAC. This ACEP-supported organization is now one of the top-five medical specialty PACs in the country, and contributes more than $2 million per election cycle to federal legislators who support emergency physicians.

Change comes slowly in Washington, DC. But ACEP will continue its decades long work to make sure that when a bill is put on the President’s desk for his signature, the concerns of emergency physicians will be included.

CMS establishes new Toolkit, PQRI helpline

On the regulatory front, CMS recently posted 2009 implementation advice for the 2009 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI).

Tools include a downloadable numerical listing of all codes included in the 2009 PQRI for incorporation into billing software, and a link to measure-specific worksheets for reporting each measure. CMS has also established a new help line for PQRI participants with questions regarding participation procedures, feedback reports, and bonus payments. The telephone number is 866-288-8912, and will be in operation between 7:00am and 7:00pm Central time.

CMS plans to create a new email address for inquiries as well. Additional information about these tools and the PQRI program may be found at the CMS PQRI Web site.

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