Believe it or not, change begins with one person willing to lead by example—and you can be that person. All too often, we get caught up with the changes we want. However, instead of talking about what we would like, it’s time to lead. The best way to do this is to show others you’re willing to do your part. With changes in the U.S. healthcare system happening minute by minute, it’s time for us to make our voices heard. To accomplish this, we must maintain our representation in the AMA House of Delegates (HOD), with at least 1,000 AMA members who are also members of the ACR. That allows us to maintain our seat at the AMA Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) and the Current Procedural Terminology Editorial Panel (CPT).
The RUC & You
Why is the RUC important to you? The RUC, along with national medical specialty societies, acts as an expert panel in developing recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the relative value of physician services under the Medicare physician fee schedule. As a participant society at the RUC, the ACR currently holds one of the internal medicine rotating seats on the panel and actively participates in the process to help determine the physician work associated with each CPT code in rheumatology practices.
As the ACR representative to the RUC, I work alongside other advisers to issue recommendations for precisely how Medicare should value more than 200 different medical procedures and how much Medicare will reimburse physicians. Most providers are not familiar with the intense work happening behind the scenes to influence the Medicare payment rates. But through the insight of the ACR leadership and the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, we continue to be an integral part of developing relative values for our specialty at the RUC. This is possible only by maintaining our representation at each of the AMA’s groups, which includes the HOD, RUC and CPT.
The Proposed Rule
On Thursday, July 13, the CMS posted the proposed rule, Revisions to Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2018. The proposed rule addresses changes and updates to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and other Medicare Part B payment policies, which will affect practices. Through this proposed rule, the CMS either accepts the RUC’s recommendations or emends the recommendations and values of the procedure(s) based on their own internal discussions. The College will prepare a detailed analysis of the impacts of the proposed rule on practice expense and the overall adjustments under the MPFS.