In This Issue...

More 'Choosing Wisely' Test Lists to be Released

The Choosing Wisely campaign, sponsored by the ABIM foundation, announced that 30 new lists of potentially inappropriately ordered tests and procedures will be released over the next few months.  Currently, 54 societies and 17 consumer groups are participating in this initiative.  To date, these organizations have identified more than 130 tests and procedures that could be potentially harmful to patients.  For a listing of the forthcoming release dates, please visit the ABIM website.

Republicans Issue Fall House Agenda

The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has issued the Republican legislative agenda for this fall.  In addition to budgetary matters, the Republican leader has a number of health issues he wants to bring to the House floor for a vote.   Rep. Cantor has two bills he would like to pass. 

  • The first is the “Kids First Research Act,” which would transfer $130 million from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for medical research to “help children who are suffering from diseases and disorders like autism, juvenile diabetes, Down syndrome and cancer.”
  • The second, the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act,” would require able-bodied adults without children to participate in job training programs to receive food stamps.

More importantly, however, the Majority leader plans to hold a series of votes to “dismantle, defund, and delay” the 2010 health care reform law.  In recent months, the Administration has acknowledged that a number of deadlines, such as limits on consumer out-of-pocket health expenses and a requirement that large employers offer health care coverage to full time employees will be missed.  House Republicans are hoping to enact measures that may further hinder implementation of the law.  A memo detailing the Majority Leader’s plans is available on his blog.

House GOP Proposes Medicare Reforms

The House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees released a joint white paper, “Modernizing Medicare for the 21st Century,” which explores changes to streamline the Medicare program.  Although short of specifics, the committees would create a single deductible for Medicare Parts A and B of $550.  There would be a 20 percent copayment for costs above the deductible.  The panels are also considering barring Medigap insurance plans from paying the cost sharing amount below the $550.  If enacted, the committees estimate these reforms would save nearly $180 billion over ten years.  Clinical laboratory services are not exempt from the plan.  To view the white paper, please go to the House Energy and Commerce Committee website.

AHRQ Names New Director

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius recently named Richard Kronick, PhD, as the new Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  Prior to this appointment, he had served as the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and the Director of Policy and Reimbursement for the Medicaid Division within the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare.  Dr. Kronick replaces Carolyn Clancy, MD, who had served as the AHRQ Director since 2003.

AACC IQCP Webinar with Judy Yost

AACC will be conducting a webinar on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services new Individualized Quality Control Plan (IQCP), which will give laboratories another option for complying with the CLIA’88 quality control requirements.  The program will take place on November 14th. If you use the product code 146, you will get 20 percent off the cost of the program.