NANOS Advocacy Committee Updates

Posted: 06/01/2021
Category: General News




Our very own neuro-ophthalmology advocates, Drs. Melissa Ko and Aileen Antonio virtually joined over 180 advocates from across the country representing the American Academy of Neurology at the Neurology on the Hill on May 19, 2021. Dr. Antonio served as State Captain for the Michigan Delegation. The issues that were discussed with lawmakers were Medicare patient access, research relief funding, and telehealth. More information can be found here.

Aileen Antonio, MD

Melissa Ko, MD

COVID-19 has had a devastating economic impact on neurologic practices, causing a 16% reduction in Medicare spending from January to September 2020. Just as neurology practices are trying to recover from this hit, there are several Medicare policies that are converging, taking effect on January 1, 2022, which would jeopardize recovery.

COVID-19 financial impact on physician practices

Background on Medicare reimbursement cliff

THE ASK: Congress needs to act before December 31, 2021 to avert the upcoming ~10% Medicare Cliff, which is unsustainable and would severely impact patient access to neurologic care.

Research laboratories shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic and funds were reallocated. Despite re-opening, timely completion of research projects was greatly impacted and early-career scientists’ trajectory has been derailed.

THE ASK: We are asking members of Congress to cosponsor the bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy or RISE Act (H.R. 369/S. 289) to provide emergency relief and recovery funding to the National Institutes of Health and other scientific agencies due to COVID-19. This will help support the recovery of neurology research efforts from the harmful impacts of the pandemic.

Federal Research Funding by State

The Hill op-ed, “For future medical breakthrough, we must rebuild research lost to COVID”

Other organizations supporting the RISE Act

Telehealth has been an effective tool in delivering neurologic care during the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by policy flexibilities enacted by Congress and broad interpretation of these provisions by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

THE ASK: We are asking the members of Congress to cosponsor the bipartisan Telehealth Modernization Act (S. 368/H.R. 1332) or the CONNECT for Health Act to make permanent telehealth flexibilities that were implemented as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

AAN Letter to Congress on Key Telehealth Priorities

NANOS sponsored 2 fellows as Advocacy Ambassadors (Alexis Flowers and Sravanthi Vegunta) to participate in the AAO L.E.A.P. (Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, and Practice) Forward program, and Dr. Flowers also was selected to participate in the AAO Congressional Advocacy Day on May 5th. AAO also advocated for preventing the Medicare payment cuts to protect patients’ access to ophthalmic care.

AAO also asked legislators to work with the VA system to protect patients by ensuring that proposed scope of practice expansion for VA-employed non-physician providers be limited, as the education and training of providers cannot be verified adequately within current guidelines. Systemwide standards should be adopted and enforced to protect veterans’ health and to avoid potential harm.

As in prior years, AAO asked representatives and senators to support vision research at the highest possible levels through NIH/NEI and DOD funding mechanisms.

A crucial issue that has emerged is the increasing burden of prior authorization requirements for providing care for patients with Medicare. Legislation has been re-introduced to address this issue (HR 3173, Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act); it received bipartisan support in the last Congressional session but ultimately did not progress in the legislative process. The AAO asks that all physicians support this legislation, which has been endorsed by over 400 national and state medical and provider organizations. Please consider contacting your legislators here and also having your patients contact their legislators as well.

Best Regards,
NANOS Advocacy Committee


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