NEAUA Highlighter Newsletter
December 2014 Issue
News and Notes
Happy Holidays from Dr. Peter Tiffany

Season's greetings from the New England Section! As the holiday season is upon us and the year is coming to an end, I recently took a few minutes to reflect on all that the Section has accomplished this year. Dr. Gormley and her Program Chairs, Drs. Vernon Pais and Veronica Triaca, hosted yet another successful annual meeting in Newport with stellar attendance and superb scientific presentations. We also saw solid participation in the third annual physician extender program geared towards urologic nurses; we owe Kris Green with SUNA a big thank you for working with our Section to organize the program. The Section selected two outstanding candidates for the AUA Leadership Program in Drs. Arthur Mourtzinos and Joe Renzulli, both of whom participated in their inaugural Leadership Program sessions over the summer. We also elected Dr. Dick Babayan to serve as the AUA President in 2017 and preside over the AUA meeting in Boston. Dr. Babayan is a Past President of our Section, served as the New England Representative to the AUA Board of Directors, and last year was honored with the Section's Dowd Award. We congratulate him on this honor and look forward to his leadership at the AUA.

This year's Highlighter included a new design and more health policy, advocacy, and practice management articles are now being included in each issue. I hope Section members are finding the content valuable. In addition to enhanced content to the newsletter, the Section again sent its Officers and State Representatives on the Board of Directors, in addition to its first resident participant, to the AUA/AACU Joint Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC. The Section will send 2 residents or fellows in 2015, in addition to its Officers and State Reps. Thanks to our members who are very active with the AACU, MAPU and other organizations, and health policy programming at our annual meeting.

The Board of Directors continues to keep in regular contact with the national AUA office and its leadership, and thanks to Dr. Kevin Loughlin, the Section Rep to the AUA Board, our members are kept apprised of all the initiatives, program, and opportunities the AUA extends. Please be sure to be on the lookout for more AUA Board level updates from Dr. Loughlin by email in the new year.

In closing, I would like to thank all the New England Section members, especially the leadership, for its contributions and participation in 2014. You have all made this an outstanding year for the Section.

In 2015, plan to come to the Bahamas in October and defend the honor of the New England Section as we challenge the Mid-Atlantic Section in Beach Olympics and on the golf course and the tennis courts!! An exciting scientific session is being planned including a unique panel discussion of work/life balance in the family of a urologist. More programming details will be available in the new year.



2015 NEAUA/MAAUA Joint Meeting

Save the date for the 2015 Joint Meeting of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Sections of the AUA. The meeting will take place October 22-25, 2015 at the Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Visit the NEAUA meeting website frequently for updates. The abstract submission site will be open in early January 2015.



AUA 2015 Research Funding Opportunities – CALL FOR APPLICATIONS



UROPAC

2015 Summer Medical Student Research Fellowships
The Herbert Brendler, MD, and the Arkansas Urologic Society Summer Medical Student Fellowship Program provides $3,000 to medical students conducting urology research during the summer of 2015. APPLY NOW!

2015 Residency Research Awards
This program offers $40,000 to support salary and requisite supplies for one year while a urology resident fulfills their obligation for research training beginning in July 2015. APPLY NOW!

2015 Urology Care Foundation/Pfizer Mentored Research Training Awards
These four awards US-based in scope will provide up to $20,000 for six months or up to $40,000 for one year of research training under the mentorship of a senior scientist with a well-established research program. Please visit the website for full award details including the allowed domains of research in bladder health. Residents, fellows and post-doctoral scientists are welcome to apply! APPLY NOW!

IMPORTANT DATES AND TIMES FOR ALL ABOVE PROGRAMS

  • Application Submission Deadline: 5:00 p.m. local time, Thursday, January 15, 2015
  • Peer Review: February 2015
  • Funding Notification: April 2015
  • Award Period: Begins July 2015

Please contact the AUA Office of Research at grants@auanet.org with any questions or for further information!



STATE ADVOCACY & HEALTH POLICY

UROPAC Donors Forge Senate Relationships

AUA President Elect Dr. William Gee and soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Pictured above are Dr. Gee & Sen. McConnell.
Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito and Dr. McKinney
Pictured above are Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito & Dr. McKinney.
Sen. Tim Scott R-SC, Dr. Noble, Rep. Cassidy and Dr. Henderson
Pictured above are Sen. Tim Scott R-SC, Dr. Noble, Rep. Cassidy & Dr. Henderson.

Multiple UROPAC donors across several states built new relationships with several key members of Congress and strengthened old ones in key Senate races this past election cycle. Featured in photos are AUA President Elect Dr. William Gee and soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr. Doug McKinney and Senator Elect Shelly Moore Capito and Drs. Jonathan Henderson and Jim Noble with Senator Elect Dr. Bill Cassidy.

Dr. Gee was lobbying on Capitol in support of the AUA sponsored Urotrauma legislation that Senator McConnell signed on as a co-sponsor. The legislation ultimately became a part of a large Dept of Defense bill and will go a long way in supporting our veterans as they recover from their battlefield injuries.

Former AACU President and UROPAC Board member, Dr. Doug McKinney from West Virginia has been very involved in State politics, having once run for Governor himself. UROPAC participated in a Washington, D.C. fundraiser hosted by AUA Lobbyist Vicki Hart. As part of our strategy, DC staff attended the event but we asked Dr. McKinney, a lifelong friend of then Congressman Capito, to deliver the check "in District". Whenever possible, UROPAC looks for local Urologists to deliver checks at home to help forge those "Key Contact" relationships.

Finally, UROPAC Board member Dr. Jonathan Henderson and his partner Dr. Jim Noble have been strong supporters of now Senator-elect Dr. Bill Cassidy. UROPAC supported multiple fundraisers for Dr. Cassidy in his successful bid to win a U.S. Senate seat. UROPAC Treasurer, Dr. Robert Bass was also very active in developing a “Key Contact” relationship with Dr. Cassidy and Urology is now well positioned in the Bayou State.

Political relationships matter and UROPAC can help you make and maintain the political connections we need to advance the cause of our patients and fellow urologists.

Donate now at www.UROPAC.org

Art Tarantino M.D.
Chairman, UROPAC



A Funded Trip to the 2015 Joint Advocacy Conference: Application Deadline January 2nd

The 10th Annual AUA/AACU Urology Joint Advocacy Conference will take place March 8-10, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The meeting is urology's health policy "main event." The agenda features talks by members of Congress and key policy makers who will shape the regulatory future of medicine. It also affords attendees the chance to meet with members of Congress from their home state to advocate for urology’s current policy initiatives. To review details for the 2014 program visit the JAC website.

The New England Section will fund the trip of 2 residents or fellows in 2015 to attend the 10th Annual JAC, as it recognizes that engagement of young urologists in urologic advocacy is important to the specialty. To apply for this funded trip, residents and fellows should visit the link below, submit their contact information, a 1-page essay outlining their interest in urology/healthcare policy and advocacy and how attending the 10th Annual JAC would support their interest and future aspirations. A brief letter from resident or fellow's Program Director confirming that if selected s/he will be able to attend the conference March 8-10, 2015 in DC should also be submitted. The deadline for submissions is January 2, 2015.

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY

After the conference, the participants will be asked to submit a 1-page summary of his/her experience at the JAC for the NEAUA website and newsletter.



Government Relations & Advocacy Update

This report is provided by the American Association of Clinical Urologists in partnership with the New England Section of the AUA. The AACU is pleased to update NEAUA members on socioeconomic issues affecting urologists. AACU staff may be reached via the NEAUA or by emailing info@aacuweb.org. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

 
VES Funding Cut from Medicare to Fund Tax Break

By: Ross E. Weber, AACU State Affairs Manager

As of this writing, the U.S. Senate has yet to take action on a House-approved measure that eliminates Medicare coverage for vacuum erection systems, an evidence-based treatment for erectile dysfunction.

The main objective of the "Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act" (H.R. 647) is to allow people with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts for housing, transportation and other expenses, without jeopardizing eligibility for Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

To offset the legislation's $2 billion price tag, Congressional leadership inserted spending cuts and revenue increases that were not part of the bill when committees invited public testimony on the proposal. Cuts included a requirement that Medicare Part B cover VES in the same manner as Medicare Part D covers erectile dysfunction medications. Since Medicare Part D is statutorily prohibited from covering ED drugs, Medicare Part B would have to follow suit by July 2015. The Congressional Budget Office pegs the related savings at $400 million over ten years.

Medicare spending on VES has been the subject of a number of official investigations, none of which recommended the wholesale elimination of funding. Most recently, a Dec. 30, 2013, report by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recommended that CMS establish a special payment limit for VES or seek legislative authority to include the device in Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program.

Because Congress hopes to enact this and other tax breaks before adjourning for the year, this bill is expected to sail through the Senate without debate. Still, the AACU launched a grassroots mobilization campaign Dec. 4, urging urologists to call their elected officials and explain that VES is an evidence-based treatment for a certifiable medical condition and no previous official report recommended that the funding be "zeroed out".



Urologists: Keep Up the Pressure on SGR

By: Daniel R. Shaffer, JD, AACU Associate Director

Though Congress failed to capitalize this past spring on the progress and momentum that had been steadily building toward the repeal and replacement of the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate ("SGR"), opportunities still remain in the upcoming months for passage of a permanent SGR repeal.

Filed in February 2014, HR 4015/S 2000, the "SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Modernization Act of 2014," permanently repeals SGR and establishes a framework for its replacement. After a 5-year period of 0.5% increases to Medicare payments to physicians, physician reimbursements under this legislation will be calculated going forward either under a newly established Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or based upon the physician's participation in an Alternate Pay Model, depending on what the physician chooses. There are a number of other provisions to this legislation, but there was one issue that was conspicuously absent: how to pay for the repeal and replacement of SGR.

This omission ultimately led to the legislation’s downfall last March. With Congress unable to agree on a "payfor" prior to March 31, 2014, the date on which Congress' last temporary SGR patch or "Doc Fix" was set to expire, Congress passed its 17th Doc Fix in the 17-year history of SGR. This move by Congress prevented an estimated 24% cut in Medicare payments to physicians under SGR and delayed the implementation of ICD-10 for another year. However, like past fixes, it is a temporary delay of the cuts required under the existing SGR structure, preventing them from going into effect through March 31, 2015.

Because of the March 31, 2015 deadline, Congress will be required to address SGR in the coming months. Some have expressed hope that Congress might act on SGR during the "lame duck" session of Congress occurring in the waning months of 2014. Others look to early 2015 as the chance to effectuate a permanent repeal.

Regardless, the pressure must be kept on Congress to finally put an end to SGR. Legislation repealing and replacing SGR – legislation crafted by members of both parties from both chambers of Congress -- exists in the form of HR 4015/S 2000, and while not perfect, it is a better alternative to the current system.

Keep up the pressure on representatives and senators. Urologists will have the opportunity to advocate for repeal in March 2015 at the Urology Joint Advocacy Conference. The conference takes place March 8-10, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Make your voice heard.



Fight or flight: Voicing concern about government's role is only first step

By: Ross E. Weber, AACU State Affairs Manager

The 2014 State of the Specialty survey recently published by Urology Times compiles compelling, and sometimes conflicting, data on urologists' sense of their practice and profession. Not surprisingly, the impact and role of government in the practice of medicine permeates nearly every reported concern. An astounding 87% of respondents perceived "increasing government regulations" with trepidation. Unfortunately, while nearly nine in ten urologists identify the problem, far fewer take steps to address it.

While there are principled reasons why some physicians won't/don't/can't actively engage, one must not allow cynicism to influence whether they respond to calls to action. All urologists must believe their letter, phone call, facility visit, or in-district meeting will make the difference.

Why? Because these activities work. They open doors and minds, affecting change every day. Individual and collective urologist engagement is required because your colleagues are writing, calling, and meeting with policy makers every day, explaining why they deserve a bigger piece of the shrinking health care funding pie.

What's more, today's crop of lawmakers are "listening" more than ever, for personal knowledge and political survival.

Learn why legislators are listening and how to make your voice heard at UrologyTimes.com.



From the State Capitol to the U.S. Capitol

By: Ross E. Weber, AACU State Affairs Manager

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state legislators make up a majority of newly elected members of Congress. The freshman class of the 114th Congress includes 29 state legislators elected to the House of Representatives and an additional 6 elected to the U.S. Senate. All told, 217 Representatives (49.9%) and 44 Senators (44%) have roots in the state legislature, a slight increase over previous years. The information provided below does not include members of the congressional delegation who served in an executive capacity within state or local government such as former Maine Governor, now Sen. Angus Smith; former New Hampshire Attorney General, now Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former Burlington, Vermont Mayor, now Sen. Bernie Sanders.

For a complete list of former state legislators who will serve in the 114th Congress, visit www.ncsl.org.

Congressional Delegation Members with State Legislative Experience



AUA Interactive State Legislation Map

The AUA tracks state legislation that could impact the practice of urology in your region. View which bills the AUA is monitoring by visiting the interactive state legislation map.