Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, to avert the so-called fiscal cliff and temporarily forestall cuts to Medicare, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senate passed the legislation by an overwhelming margin earlier that day.
The much-awaited action by Congress delays for one year the scheduled 26.5 percent cut to Medicare physician payments. The final bill also delays the sequester—including the scheduled 2 percent cut to Medicare and 8.6 percent cut to the NIH and the FDA—for two months, during which lawmakers will once again attempt to resolve the automatic across-the-board budget reductions.
Included in the final bill were two provisions related to payment reform that will directly impact many oncologists: (1) to develop a system to qualify registry programs, such as the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative® (QOPI), for reporting under the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2014, and (2) to set the stage to enhance the quality of data needed for new delivery and payment models. ASCO was instrumental in working to achieve both of these provisions and will continue to work with Congress and the Administration over the next year as they implement these systems.
While this legislation is not perfect, it reflects the hard work and engagement of ASCO volunteers though grassroots outreach and direct contact with Members of Congress. The volunteers on the Government Relations Committee, the Clinical Practice Committee, the Research Committee and the State Affiliate Council, as well as many others, made countless visits to Capitol Hill during the past year to ensure the voice of the oncology community was heard in this difficult political climate.
This advocacy will continue to be important in the coming weeks due to the continued triple threat of cuts to the NIH, FDA, and Medicare if the sequester is allowed to go into effect. One action you can take right now is to send a message to your Members of Congress about the negative impacts these cuts will have on your practice and patients.
To read a statement from ASCO’s President-Elect Clifford A. Hudis, MD on the fiscal cliff legislation, please click here.
For ongoing information about sequestration and other policy issues, please stay tuned to ASCO in Action.