AAOMS Advocacy E-news
Aug. 15, 2017

For further information, contact:
Adam Walaszek
Governmental Affairs Department


Federal Affairs

Looking ahead to September

After the GOP’s failure to acquire support for Senate action on the proposed health legislation through an open amendment process, Republican leadership aims to work on bipartisan legislation to stabilize the health insurance market. The Trump Administration has stated it has not committed to continuing cost-sharing subsidies, resulting in calls from Republican and Democratic legislators to maintain the subsidies to health insurers. This would prevent further destabilization of the health insurance market and incentivize insurers from withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges.

It is unclear what immediate action will take place in September given the House and Senate have entered a month-long recess. Legislators will be pressed to finalize pending appropriations and budgetary measures for FY 2018 with the FY 2017 budget ending on Sept. 30 to avoid a potential government shutdown. With time-sensitive tasks looming – such as passing appropriations legislation, raising the debt ceiling and passing a budget resolution – health reform will likely take a backseat in September.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) suggested enlisting the pending reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers as a possible legislative vehicle to address some repeal elements, such as eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board. However, it is uncertain if legislators will pursue this course of action.

President declares opioid abuse ‘national emergency’

President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency last week, following the recommendation of his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission included the recommendation in its interim report to the president. The declaration gives the executive branch the necessary tools and resources to effectively and quickly remove some bureaucratic barriers as well as waive some federal rules to allow states to use federal funding in ways other than originally authorized to respond to the drug epidemic. To discuss the report, the commission held a July 31 teleconference that AAOMS joined. The conversation primarily focused on mental health parity and law enforcement; however, one notable recommendation from the report that could impact AAOMS members was a request from the commission to require providers to take a mandatory continuing education course on safe prescribing practices in order to renew a Drug Enforcement Administration license. The commission will release a final report to the president at a later date.

Senate confirms surgeon general nominee

The Senate confirmed surgeon general nominee Dr. Jerome Adams on Aug. 3. The confirmation was part of a large nominations package the Senate moved with a voice vote. Dr. Adams is a practicing anesthesiologist who was appointed to lead Indiana’s Department of Health in 2014 by former Indiana Governor and current Vice President Mike Pence. Dr. Adams is known for his work combatting the state’s HIV outbreak and opioid epidemic. Dr. Adams replaces former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who resigned from the position in April. As surgeon general, Dr. Adams is expected to serve as a spokesperson for the Trump Administration’s health agenda.

AAOMS sends letters of support

AAOMS recently sent a letter of support to Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) for his bill, “Dental and Optometric Care Access Act” (HR 1606), which would prohibit federally controlled healthcare plans from capping fees on non-covered vision and dental services. AAOMS also signed on to a coalition letter of support initiated by the American College of Cardiologists to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees to commend them for allocating $34 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – $2 billion more than in FY 2016. It also ignores the Trump Administration’s proposed spending levels, which recommended a $5.4 billion cut to the NIH.

State Affairs

More opioid abuse prevention measures pass states

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed legislation (H 5975) that will require all prescriptions for controlled substances to be e-prescribed by January 2020. She also signed a bill (H 6307/S 493) that requires healthcare professionals to discuss the risk of opioids prior to issuing a prescription for a Schedule II substance. Meanwhile, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) signed a bill (HB 159) that limits initial opioid prescriptions to adults and all opioid prescriptions to minors to a seven-day supply. This new law also requires practitioners to complete two hours of CE in pain management and opioid use and addiction.

In Missouri, Gov. Eric Greitens (R), frustrated with the inaction of his state’s legislature, signed an executive order creating a statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Missouri is the last state in the country to form a PDMP, as efforts in the legislature have largely failed due to opposition from one state senator, a physician who had privacy concerns. The new PDMP, unlike those in most states, will be inaccessible to healthcare providers and pharmacists.

Health Information Technology

Where does your state rank in EHR adoption?

The Center for Data Innovation, a think tank in Washington, D.C., recently released a The Best States for Data Innovation report. One of the report’s metrics is electronic health record (EHR) adoption by hospitals and physicians. Massachusetts ranks first in adoption and integration of EHR technology in practices, with 90 percent of physicians adopting the technology. In New Jersey, 62 percent of providers are EHR adopters.

OCR urges ongoing employee training to protect PHI

In a recent HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) newsletter, covered entities were urged to train their workforce to protect patients’ personal health information to avoid potential data breaches. OCR highlighted the following areas that may benefit worker training:
  • Computer-based training
  • Classroom training
  • Monthly newsletters
  • Posters
  • Email alerts
  • Team discussions
Most importantly, OCR reminded providers they should document all training and updates provided to staff as required by HIPAA. For more information on HIPAA requirements, visit HHS.gov/OCR.

Practice Management

Quality Improvement 101

The Dental Quality Alliance (DQA), the body established by the ADA to develop performance measures for oral healthcare, has partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to develop a free online course on quality improvement.

Quality Improvement 101 will explain how to use quantitative and qualitative feedback to evaluate the quality of services in your practice, both clinical and operational, and use that feedback to drive toward meaningful change for you and your patients.

Through a series of five short lessons, you’ll learn how to use the “Model for Improvement” to improve your professional practice. The basic steps for any improvement project are: Set an aim, select measures, develop ideas for changes and test changes using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles.

To complete this course, visit www.ihi.org/education/IHIOpenSchool/Courses/Pages/Dental-Quality-Alliance-DQA.aspx.
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