In a health care world that places increasing emphasis on outcome data, some of the richest information from clinical trials can be the least accessible because of barriers to sharing. Now the US National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM) is looking for ways to solve those access problems and asking for feedback on the issue.
In a recently released report titled Discussion Framework for Clinical Trial Data Sharing: Guiding Principles, Elements, and Activities, a specially formed IOM committee outlines its progress on efforts to rethink data restrictions that, if relaxed, "could facilitate new analyses and a deeper understanding of a particular therapy or condition," in the committee's opinion. The report states that "a cultural change" has taken place in current thinking about data sharing, and that "the conversation … has moved from whether it should happen to how it should be carried out."
The committee's efforts to identify ways to carry out greater data sharing include gathering input from the providers and researchers. The group is particularly interested in feedback on global implementation, the timing and prioritization of sharing, mitigating risks, enhancing incentives, and measuring impact, and has produced a guideline for providing public comment (.pdf).
The fight to end inappropriate physician self-referral has been boosted by the launch of a new website that will highlight the issue, support legislation aimed at curbing the practice, and help physical therapists (PTs) and others learn how to take action to advocate for needed change.
The Alliance for Integrity in Medicare (AIM) coalition's new online presence is designed to educate providers, legislators, and the public on the impact of physician self-referral on the Medicare system, and to solidify support for the Promoting Integrity in Medicare Act (HR 2914), a recently introduced bill that seeks to close self-referral loopholes. These loopholes allow physicians to refer their Medicare patients for certain ancillary health care services owned by and contained within the physician's practice—an approach that results in unnecessary use of services, higher costs, and potential risk to patient health.
APTA is a founding member of AIM, which also includes laboratory, radiation oncology, and medical imaging groups. The new website offers background on the issue, links to studies that confirm the damaging effects of self-referral, a press kit, and ways to easily take action and support the coalition's efforts.
APTA has been working for years on Capitol Hill to fight physician self-referral. Find out more about this issue at APTA's self-referral webpage, and take action now by asking your legislators to close the self-referral loophole. Contact the APTA advocacy staff for more information.
Congress has until March 31 to take action on payment formulas including the sustainable growth rate (SGR): until then, physical therapists (PTs) need to know how to determine current payment for services. At APTA, there's a calculator for that.
The 2014 multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) calculator is now live on APTA's Medicare webpage. From now until March 31, PTs must follow an MPPR policy that implements a 50% payment reduction to the practice expense value of approximately 44 codes, with payment calculated based on code combinations. The APTA calculator is designed to help PTs identify those payments.
The baseline payment formulas now in place are temporary ones, intended to provide Congress with time to take action to extend, modify, or end the flawed SGR. Last year, legislators moved closer than ever to eliminating the SGR, and proposals are still being discussed. APTA has created a webpage with detailed information on the proposals.
APTA is actively involved in the SGR reform process and will be asking PTs, physical therapist assistants, educators, patients, and supporters to contact their legislators when Congress is poised to take action on this issue. Members interested in joining APTA’s advocacy efforts to reform the SGR and repeal the therapy cap can sign up for PTeam.
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