Rheumatologists who have not been members of the American Medical Association (AMA), or have let their membership lapse, should strongly consider joining now for 2015 so rheumatology can remain involved in steering the direction of the AMA. Call the AMA at 800-262-3211 and specify that you want to join for 2015, or contact ACR staff at [email protected] for assistance in becoming an AMA member or renewing your membership. If you are already an AMA member, please make sure you have designated the ACR as your representative society. ACR staff can help as well.
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Explore This IssueSeptember 2015
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Why is AMA membership important to rheumatologists? We need your help to maintain rheumatology’s seats at the AMA policymaking body, the House of Delegates, as well as rheumatology’s seat at the table for the RUC and other vital decision-making and informational aspects of organized medicine. The AMA surveys rheumatology’s membership in the AMA annually and adjusts rheumatology’s representation accordingly. Representation in the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) is based on the number of ACR members who also maintain a membership with the AMA and the number of joint ACR/AMA members who designate the ACR as their representative society. Rheumatology will receive one delegate per 1,000 members and one for any increment over 1,000. Therefore, it is imperative that all ACR members consider joining the AMA or renewing your membership for 2015.
The ACR has an active and effective delegation to the AMA representing rheumatologists’ interests. At the last meeting in July, the ACR led action on these issues:
ICD-10: The HOD adopted a policy that the AMA will ask CMS and other payers for a safe harbor grace period for the ICD-10 transition, based on existing policy the ACR and partners put in at previous meetings. Additionally, the AMA was directed to aggressively promote this implementation compromise to Congress and CMS (a major new development that came after testimony and an amendment offered by the ACR and others). This has been a major focus of ACR advocacy, specifically with the legislation we supported that was introduced by Rep. Diane Black (H.R. 2247).
The ACR was successful in having the HOD adopt policy regarding the Value-Based Modifier and Flawed Drug Cost Attribution. The ACR-drafted Resolution 236 asked that the AMA work with CMS to modify VBM cost attribution with regard to drug costs, to ensure the cost calculation does not unfairly disadvantage certain providers. The VBM will remain part of the future Merit-Based Incentive Payment System called for by the MACRA, the legislation that repealed the SGR. Our resolution 236 was co-sponsored by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Gastroenterology and American Society of Clinical Oncology.
The ACR co-sponsored Resolution 505 along with the dermatology caucus members regarding the difficulties rheumatologists often face obtaining coverage for patients for off-label use of medications. The HOD amended current policies and resolved to advocate that the FDA work to establish a process whereby the official drug labeling can be updated in a more expeditious fashion when new evidence becomes available affecting the clinical use of prescription medications, and that evidence-based standards or peer-reviewed medical literature can add to legacy information contained in official drug labeling statements to guide drug administration and usage.
In another effort with the dermatology caucus, we sponsored Resolution 702 regarding Access to In-Office Administered Drugs. This strengthens AMA policy that we had previously brought forward regarding this issue.
These are just a few examples of what the ACR is doing for you at the AMA. The ACR’s activity and impact at the AMA HOD is possible only because of ACR members who are also AMA members. It’s important that rheumatologists take a moment today to join or renew their AMA membership to allow this work to continue and to keep the ACR part of the AMA federation. It’s a critical piece of our overall advocacy strategy, and we thank you for your help. Call the AMA at 800-262-3211, or contact ACR staff at [email protected] for assistance with your AMA membership.