Photo: Representative Heinrich Tours Tricore
Need to Know: Swine Flu, H1N1 Resources Available for Laboratory Workers
The Centers for Disease Control have released guidance for laboratory workers to address the recent Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak, including on materials on laboratory safety, case definitions, and infection control.
The College also has updated resources and information for pathologists on the CAP homepage under Pathology News.
For more information about swine flu, visit the CDC website. Additional information is also available by calling 1-800- CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
Compliance Alert: FTC Regulation of Physicians as Creditors to Take Effect May 1
The Federal Trade Commission will include physicians in its definition of “creditors” starting May 1, 2009—a move that will require many physician practices to implement written identity theft prevention and detection programs in order to be in compliance.
Failure to comply with the Red Flags Rule and establish an approved Program by the new deadline could result in severe consequences.
In November 2007, the FTC issued a set of regulations, known as the Red Flags Rule, requiring that certain entities develop and implement written identity theft prevention and detection programs to protect consumers from identity theft.
At the present time, the FTC’s position is that physician practices and other healthcare providers are “creditors” in any situation in which the provider receives payment over a period of time, or receives payment from an insurance company.
In a conference call last week, FTC officials said this is “a risk-based program,” meaning the level of specificity of the written identity theft prevention and detection programs should correlate to the level of risk. For most pathology groups, risk would be considered low.
Given the May 1 deadline, however, it is strongly recommended hospital-based pathologists comply with the regulation—if the decision is clarified and it is decided the rule does not apply, the group can choose to revoke the program.
the AMA’s “Red Flags Rule resources” web page to access the new resource, “Protect your patients, protect your practice: What you need to know about the Red Flags Rule,” and a sample practice policy. For more information from the Federal Trade Commission visit their Red Flags Rule website.
CAP Joins AMA and Others in Making Healthcare Reform Recommendations to Congress
Healthcare Reform initiatives must improve quality, reduce costs and reform physician payment systems according to recommendations made to Congress by the College and other leading national physician organizations.
CAP joined the American Medical Association and more than 40 other medical specialty groups in outlining common goals and strategies for improving healthcare delivery and making affordable, high-quality care available to all Americans.
“This year, virtually all stakeholders, including physicians, have made a commitment to advocate for improving our nation’s health care system,” reads the comment letter, sent to Congressional leaders.
“While this is an enormous and complicated challenge, we are eager to work with Congress and the Administration on further developing detailed proposals that will lead us toward the patient-centered, fiscally sustainable, high-quality health care system that serves the needs of all Americans.”
To view the complete recommendations, visit the CAP Advocacy website under “Letters to Policymakers”.
CAP Urges Newly Confirmed HHS Secretary to Adopt Model to Advance Personalized Medicine
The College joined nine leading laboratory medicine organizations in urging the newly confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services to adopt a balanced regulatory model in order to accelerate advances in personalized medicine.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius won Senate confirmation April 28 as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, responsible for leading President Obama’s healthcare reform initiatives.
The coalition also made a request, in a letter signed by CAP, to meet with Secretary Sebelius to discuss future regulatory courses as innovative as the science itself with continued emphasis on safety and effectiveness.
In the April 29 letter (PDF, 23 K), the groups said to fulfill the promise of personalized medicine HHS should adopt a regulatory model that:
- Broadens interagency coordination between CMS and FDA
- Utilizes CLIA to regulate clinical laboratory testing services
- Provides a publicly transparent genetic test registry
- Avoids overlapping and potentially conflicting regulatory requirements that retard innovation
- Allows for a participatory approach that draws on the expertise of all industry stakeholders
More personalized, patient-centered care has been a foundation of President Obama’s healthcare reform agenda. The College will continue to work with other leading medical organizations, stake holders and decision-makers in order to assure that the voice of pathologists is heard while the national healthcare reform agenda is formed.
Coalition Identifies Crucial Factors Needed to Support Patient-Centered Medical Home
The capabilities and functionalities of Health Information Technology that experts consider crucial to support the patient-centered Medical Home were identified in a white paper released by the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) Center for eHealth Information Adoption and Exchange (CeHIA).
“Meaningful Connections: A Resource Guide for Using Health IT to Support the Patient-Centered Medical Home,” released at the PCPCC’s April 28 Stakeholder’s Working Meeting in Washington, D.C., serves as a valuable resource for informing health information technology implementation efforts currently underway nationwide.
The document identifies five specific health IT capabilities that need to be embedded within a “medical home” including the ability to:
- Collect, manage and exchange patient health information
- Support communication between providers, patients and caregivers throughout the care delivery process
- Measure and report on individual patients and patient populations
- Support medical decision-making and delivery of evidence-based care
- Engage patients and caregivers on their health, wellness and therapies
“Right now there is unprecedented urgency to change the way healthcare is delivered in the US. Adoption of information technology in support of the patient-centered medical home figures prominently in reform efforts,” noted CeHIA co-chair James Crawford, MD, PhD, FCAP of North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. “Pathologists play a critical role in delivery of patient-centered care through care coordination activities, improving communication among and between providers and patients, and reporting—both on individual patients and patient populations.”
CAP is a member of the PCPCC, a coalition of more than 400 major employers, consumer groups, organizations representing primary care physicians, and other stakeholders who have joined to advance patient-centered care. Through its involvement in the PCPCC and in other venues, the CAP is highlighting the pathologist’s role as chief diagnostician and clinical care advisor, particularly within an emerging environment of personalized healthcare.
View the report online.
Dramatic Changes May Be in Store for Forensic Pathologists
Recent developments in Forensic Pathology—including calls to standardize the field, debate over organ retention for research, and upcoming legislation on stillborn births—may mean dramatic changes are on the way for the specialty.
The National Academy of Sciences released a report Feb. 18 entitled, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” recommended the creation of a National Institute for Forensic Pathology to develop and oversee national standards related to quality, accreditation, certification, PT testing, funding, staffing, terminology, and ethics.
On a separate front, forensic pathologists are facing several state-level class action lawsuits for retaining organs as part of their normal duty to determine the cause of death.
Plaintiffs are pressing for a class action certification of the suits, asking for monetary damages and demanding injunction relief against all medical examiners who retain organs.
Also of concern to forensic pathologists is possible legislation regarding autopsies performed on stillborn infants. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) plans to introduce legislation designed to identify the cause of and reduce instances of stillborn births.
The legislation would expand current data collection and surveillance designed to track the instances of and causes of stillborn deaths, increase public awareness, and provide funding for grief services designed to assist parents who have experienced still birth loss.
What may prove of interest in this issue is the recent party switch for Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania from Republican to Democrat— Senator Specter is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has partial jurisdiction over the issue.
The College will be monitoring all these activities and working with other forensic pathology organizations to ensure that these changes do not create barriers for pathologists in performing their duties.
2009 CAP Advocacy School Set to Begin Next Week
More than 60 pathologists will come to Washington, D.C. next week for the 2009 CAP Advocacy School and National Lobby Day, where they will receive in-depth political advocacy training, learn about the College’s key issues and the legislative process, hear from Congressional guest speakers and meet with lawmakers and their staff.
More than two hundred meetings between pathologists and their representatives have been scheduled on Capitol Hill so far, to discuss legislative issues affecting pathology such as cuts to Medicare physician payments and the adoption of Health Information Technology.
In addition to the advocacy training and meetings on Capitol Hill, guest speakers will also provide perspectives on grassroots advocacy, the healthcare reform agenda, and the legislative process.
The Senate Finance Committee has released a draft Healthcare Reform proposal addressing payment reform, infrastructure investments, Medicare Advantage and combating waste fraud and abuse.
The proposal, entitled “Transforming the Health Care Delivery System: Proposals to Improve Patient Care and Reduce Health Care Costs,” is the first step in addressing healthcare delivery system reform, and will likely undergo significant revision as it is considered by the committee.
The College will be releasing a Special Report on the proposal next week including an outline and analysis of provisions that will affect pathologists.
CAP members hosted four lab tours recently, giving their Congressional representatives the opportunity to see first hand the role of pathology in patient care and discuss key issues like healthcare reform:
- Andrew Horvath, MD, FCAP, hosted Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) at Tricore Reference Laboratories April 14 in Albuquerque, NM.
- Lawrence Konick, MD, FCAP, hosted Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) at Pacific Pathology Association, Inc. April 15 in Salem, OR.
- Warren Eisenstein, MD, FCAP, hosted Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) at Anatomic Pathology Laboratories of TJ Samson Community Hospital April 15 in Glasgow, KY.
- Edwin Jenevein, MD, FCAP, hosted Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at ProPath Laboratories April 17 in Dallas, TX.
For more information on how you can host your Senator or Representative on a laboratory tour, contact Chris Sherin either by phone, 202-354-7129, or email.
202-354-7100 • 202-354-7155 (fax) • 800-392-9994