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With the pending release of new regulations and potential legislation affecting the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine, the 2016 CAP Policy Meeting will be an extremely important event for pathologists to attend and advocate on behalf of their specialty and patients.

The CAP is watching for new federal actions that will affect the regulation and reimbursement of pathology and laboratory services. These federal measures include the anticipated release of regulations for Medicare's Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM) programs, and the final rule for the new clinical laboratory payment system under the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has yet to finalize its guidance document providing oversight of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs), while members of Congress continue to discuss drafting legislation that addresses LDT oversight.

The latest news and information on these anticipated federal actions will be discussed during the 2016 Policy Meeting May 2–4 by health policy leaders in Washington, DC. The CAP Policy Meeting, which will include meetings with the offices of your elected representatives during the CAP's Annual Hill Day on May 4, is the specialty’s opportunity to focus on the federal issues most important to pathologists now and in the future.

Register for the meeting today. The CAP Policy Meeting is a benefit of CAP Membership. There is no fee to register. Plus, by registering and participating in the Policy Meeting, you will be eligible to earn 8.25 continuing medical education (CME) credits.

Speakers and expert presenters at the Policy Meeting include:

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, who will participate in a discussion about Medicare policy and reimbursement.
  • Harold D. Miller, the president and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, who will discuss how physicians can provide leadership in future health care payment and delivery reforms.
  • Renowned journalist David Gregory, who will provide a firsthand analysis and running narrative of the Obama Administration, Congress, and politics in America.
  • Leading public opinion expert and NBC and Wall Street Journal pollster Peter Hart and Ed Goeas, who is president and CEO of The Tarrance Group, one of the most respected and successful Republican survey research and strategy teams in American politics.
  • Alberto Gutierrez, PhD, director of the FDA Office of In Vitro Diagnostics in the Radiological Health Center for Devices and Radiological Health, who will be part of a panel discussion on oversight of LDTs.
  • Marc Hartstein, the director of the CMS Hospital Ambulatory Payment Group, and Medicare law and policy authority Paul Radensky, MD, JD, of the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. Mr. Hartstein and Dr. Radensky will speak during a panel discussion titled: "Getting Ready for the New Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) Requirements for Laboratories."

Join your colleagues at the 2016 CAP Policy Meeting in Washington, DC, and focus on the issues most important to pathologists now and in the future.

Collaborate. Advocate. Take Action.

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As part of the CAP's ongoing efforts to educate policy influencers—members of Congress, congressional staff, regulatory agency officials, and health policy experts—an advertisement campaign is running at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The purpose of the advertisements is to bring greater attention to the role of pathologists in patient diagnosis.

There are a total of five advertisements at DCA—two wall advertisements and a floor advertisement located in the terminal B bridge on the second level (between the Metro Rail and parking garage exit and security), and two wall advertisements in the terminal C bridge on the second level. The advertisements align with the CAP's overall messaging of "Know pathologists." One advertisement reads, "KNOW PATHOLOGISTS. The pathologist's diagnosis drives effective treatment decisions for patients." The second reads, "KNOW PATHOLOGISTS. Know physicians who specialize in the diagnosis of disease."

If you are attending the 2016 CAP Policy Meeting from May 2–4 or if you will be traveling via DCA airport from April 25–May 22, we encourage you to seek out the advertisements, take a picture with them, and share on social media. Here's how:

  • Snap a photo with one or more of the CAP's advertisements
  • Post the picture to Facebook or Twitter
  • Add the hashtag #pathologists to your post
  • Follow the hashtag to see who else is talking about pathologists

The 2016 CAP Policy Meeting in Washington, DC: Focusing on the issues most important to pathologists now and in the future.

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In an April 13 resolution affirmed by 44 state pathology societies, pathologists nationwide called for New York State to repeal the regulation that prohibits pathologists from conferring with patients on laboratory and pathology test results.

"Pathologists in every other state in the United States are able to fully exercise our medical discretion in answering patient questions, without the dictate or constraint of state regulation, and conferring with patients based upon our medical judgment as physicians," the resolution stated. "The New York regulation represents an unwarranted and deleterious intrusion into the physician practice of medicine by pathologists to the detriment of quality, patient care, and patient empowerment in understanding their diagnosis."

The CAP and New York State Society of Pathologists (NYSSPATH) have strongly advocated for the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to remove the outdated prohibition on discussions between patients and pathologists. Regulatory impediments to patient discussions with pathologists should be removed as pathologists are legally and ethically obligated to communicate with their patients, the CAP and NYSSPATH have said.

The DOH is meeting with stakeholders to decide whether to take any action to repeal or change the regulation. The NY Public Health Planning Council, following testimony by pathologists, set a deadline of July 2016 for the DOH to make a determination.

The state DOH has been conducting calls with external stakeholders to determine their respective positions on the issue. A DOH stakeholder call in February included Emily Volk, MD, FCAP, chair of the CAP Council on Government and Professional Affairs (CGPA), and Patrick Godbey, MD, FCAP, vice chair of the CGPA.

Recently, six national pathology organizations and the New York chapters of the AARP and the American College of Radiology (ACR) also have urged the DOH to repeal the prohibition.

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The CAP urged members of Congress, in an April 15 letter to lawmakers, to pass legislation removing patient cost sharing for colonoscopies provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

Several physician associations and patient advocacy groups have called on Congress to pass the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2015 (HR 1220/S 624). The Medicare program waives coinsurance and deductibles for screening colonoscopies except when a polyp is found and removed. The removal of polyps is a therapeutic service and is subject to patient cost sharing.

The legislation would eliminate the unexpected cost for Medicare beneficiaries when a polyp is discovered and removed.

"We agree that polyp removal is integral to a screening colonoscopy and support the elimination of this unintended cost," CAP President Richard C. Friedberg, MD, PhD, FCAP, said in letters to the House and Senate. "As you know, barriers to preventive care lead to poorer health outcomes and increased health care costs. This legislation would remove the financial barrier, encouraging more of America's seniors to take advantage of a preventive screening that saves lives."

The legislation has broad, bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The legislation had 242 cosponsors in the House and 32 cosponsors in Senate as of April 18.

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