By Dr. Fred Rosenberg
President and Chair of the Board of Directors
Happy New Year!
As I reflect on the past two years as DHPA President and Chair of the Board Directors, I am proud that together we have continued the success and organizational growth started by our first President, Dr. Scott Ketover. It has been an eventful two years, both for DHPA and our nation. DHPA has achieved much despite a volatile policy environment in our nation’s Capital. We’ve also accomplished much in developing relationships with the Tri-Societies. I am confident that DHPA is well-positioned to ensure that the voice of independent GI practices continues to be heard in the conversations that will shape health care policy in the future.
Our Voice is Heard in Our Nation’s Capital
Recognizing the need to modernize the federal physician self-referral law (commonly known as the Stark Law), DHPA led a diverse coalition of 24 physician organizations in developing the bipartisan Medicare Care Coordination Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 4206, S. 2051). The legislation seeks to eliminate barriers to care coordination created by the Stark Law, enabling physicians in independent medical practices to participate more fully in value-based payment arrangements. From our State Health Policy Action Fund, which we created in late 2016, we provided grant monies to support member practices in Maryland and New Jersey in successful legislative efforts to modernize physician self-referral laws in those states. At the same time, we also provide a grant to our member practices in Connecticut in their battle to oppose an onerous ASC tax in the State.
In October of this year, CMS announced that it had abandoned a proposed rule that would have dramatically changed reimbursement for drugs we administer in our offices under Medicare Part B. The withdrawal of the proposed rule came after more than a year of advocacy from a diverse group of provider and patient advocacy organizations that opposed the proposed rule. DHPA, our allies and patient advocates were heard loud and clear, and the decision by CMS to permanently withdraw the proposal is a true victory for our patients by preserving access to critically important drugs such as Remicade and other administered in our offices.
I applaud our dedicated leadership team, especially our Health Policy Committee, led by Dr. Lawrence Kim, and our professional advisors (legal counsel Howard Rubin; lobbyists John McManus and Tracy Spicer; communications consultant Andrew Sousa), for their unwavering commitment to ensuring that the voice of independent GI is heard in the important conversations happening in Washington. I encourage you to read more about our 2017 policy efforts in the update from DHPA’s Health Policy Chair Dr. Lawrence Kim.
Developing Bonds with our Colleagues
Over the past year, our dialogue with leadership of the Tri Societies has grown as those societies have come to appreciate even more the valuable role DHPA is playing in advocacy on behalf of GI practice. The first DHPA-AGA Partners in Value conference was held in October and plans are now being developed for next Fall’s meeting in Denver in association with our DHPA Fall meeting.
Increasing Membership, Adding States
These accomplishments could not be possible without the ongoing support of our ever-growing membership. Over the past two years, our membership has grown by nearly 50 percent, with new member practices in seven additional states. We now stand at 76 member practices in 36 states and more than 1,800 gastroenterologists, making DHPA stronger than ever. Although we have achieved much this year, 2018 is sure to be a pivotal year in health care, and adding more members to our ranks only strengthens our ability to advance the interests of our patients and our independent practices. Be sure to see Kevin Harlen’s update regarding our fantastic membership growth over the past year, and how you can encourage other practices to join us.
Great Things Ahead in 2018
The coming year could well be DHPA’s most active year ever. We will ramp up our efforts to provide member practices with the support to succeed under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) through modernization of the Stark Law. Our efforts will include grassroots actions to obtain even more Members of Congress as sponsors of the bill and to help secure passage of this important legislation, as well as a coordinated and targeted media relations campaign in Washington, DC and in our respective member-practice states.
We will continue our support of legislation to remove financial barriers to colorectal cancer screening, as well as our education of Members of Congress on how independent GI practices and related endoscopy centers provide a high quality, cost-efficient alternative to procedures in hospital outpatient departments. Our discussions with ASGE regarding updating the outdated Practice Guidelines for Endoscopic Sedation remain active as well.
An industrious, successful year came to a close and we have a busy year ahead. I look forward greeting you this March in Washington, DC at our Spring Board Meeting and working with each of you as DHPA continues to advance the voice of independent GI practices and to support our member practices as they provide our patients the highest quality, cost-effective care possible.