AAOMS Advocacy E-news
May 16, 2017

For further information, contact:
Adam Walaszek
Governmental Affairs Department


Federal Affairs

House Republicans pass ACA replacement bill, the American Health Care Act of 2017

After weeks of negotiations since its last failed attempt, House leadership took the revised version of HR 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), to the House floor and successfully passed it with a vote of 217-213 on May 4.

The fate of the ACA replacement bill is uncertain as it now faces challenges to pass the Senate. AHCA is still subject to reconciliation rules until a fiscal year 2018 budget resolution is approved, so it just needs a simple majority to pass the Senate; however, some Senate Republicans have expressed skepticism about the House bill, and most expect the Senate will change it significantly or write its own bill.

Among other well-known provisions, the bill includes several AAOMS priorities, such as repealing the annual $2,500 contribution restriction to FSAs, increasing the individual and family HSA contributions to $6,650 and $13,000, respectively, and repealing the Medical Device Tax.

President signs omnibus spending package into law

Congress passed a $1 trillion omnibus spending package (HR 244) for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year on May 4. President Donald Trump signed it into law on the following day, averting a possible government shutdown. The FY 2017 omnibus spending package expires on Sept. 30. Some notable provisions in the package include:
  • HHS receives a $2.8 billion increase in funding from 2016 with $2 billion of that going to NIH. NIDCR will receive $425.8 million – an increase of about $12.5 million from 2016.
  • CDC receives a $22 million budget increase and sets aside $112 million – an increase of $42 million – to combat prescription drug abuse.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration receives $3.6 billion, which includes $150 million to fight opioid and heroin abuse in addition to the $500 million authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act.
  • No additional discretionary spending was appropriated to implement ACA.
  • The Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board’s operating budget was blocked.
A letter that AAOMS signed onto from the Friends of the NIDCR was sent to leadership of both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees’ Subcommittees on Labor, Health, Education and Related Agencies on April 19. This letter urges legislators to oppose the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut $1.2 billion to NIH to pay for an increase in defense spending on the wall along the border of Mexico.

Surgeon General Murthy relieved of duty

The Trump Administration relieved Surgeon General Vivek Murthy of his position on April 21 after over two years of service of a four-year term. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams was named Acting Surgeon General, with the Trump Administration’s appointed replacement yet to be announced.

State Affairs

Colorado enacts non-covered services bill

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed legislation (SB 190) on April 24 that prohibits Colorado dental insurers from setting fees for dental services that are not covered under the dental insurance plan. The new law contains a provision – taking effect Aug. 9 – that would prohibit de minimis coverage that has typically allowed insurers to skirt similar laws in other states. The bill was a top priority for the Colorado Dental Association this legislative session. Currently, 39 states have similar prohibitions for dental insurers. For more information, contact the Colorado Society of OMS.

States continue to pass laws limiting opioid prescriptions

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed legislation (HB 333) that prohibits a practitioner from issuing a prescription for a Schedule II substance for more than a three-day supply for the treatment of an acute medical condition. Providers are allowed to issue a larger prescription if the provider can adequately document the reason for a larger amount.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed legislation (SB 226) that limits initial prescriptions of opioids to adults and all prescriptions to children to a seven-day supply. The bill also allows pharmacies to only partially fill a prescription at the patient’s request. For more information, contact the Kentucky Society of OMS or the Indiana Society of OMS.

Practice Management

One month only: On-Line Review Course for Assistants discounted

Further the clinical skills of your staff with the On-Line Anesthesia Review for Dental Anesthesia Assistants. Normally $325, this course is reduced for the entire month of May and available at $250. This convenient online program provides a condensed version of the in-person Anesthesia Assistants Review Course (AARC) and offers participants the flexibility to learn from the comfort of their offices and homes. Topics include basic sciences, patient evaluation and preparation, anesthetic drugs and techniques, monitoring and emergency procedures. To learn more or register, visit AAOMS.org/OMSstaff.

2018 EHR Meaningful Use hardship application deadline is July 1

Medicare providers who did not meet the requirements of the Meaningful Use program in 2016 must submit a hardship application by July 1 to avoid a 3 percent payment adjustment on their 2018 professional fees. Providers are eligible for a hardship exception due to reasons specified in the application. Only one application needs to be submitted per practice. For more information, visit the CMS website or contact CMS at 888-734-6433, option 1.
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