The 118th Congress was officially sworn into office on January 7th. While it may have got off to a slow start, the new Congress is beginning to reach its stride. Party leaders and committee chairs are beginning to lay out their priorities and agendas for these next two years.
With that in mind, NASS staff has been quick to act. We have been meeting face to face with many members of Congress and their staff to talk about the critical issues that spine specialists face and what we want Congress to do about them. We have been meeting with key legislators that serve on the committees of highest importance for our issues. This includes the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. All of these committees play a role in shaping health care legislation that the full Congress may eventually vote on.
In our meetings, we are discussing the issues of highest importance to NASS members. This includes protecting and bolstering Medicare physician reimbursement, reforming burdensome prior authorization processes, ensuring proper payment models stay in place, and proper implementation of the No Surprises Act.
Many members of Congress and their staff echo our concerns on these issues. They express interest in wanting to work with us, and the broader medical community, to address them. Specifically, there are preliminary conversations taking place about broader Medicare payment reform. While nothing official has taken place yet, we are keeping our ears to the ground and making sure NASS has established a seat at the table when these conversations do take place.
On the issue of prior authorization, while we were happy the House passed H.R. 3173, the Improving Seniors Timely Access to Care Act
, in the previous Congress, it did not pass the Senate. This bill, which would streamline the prior authorization process under Medicare Advantage plans, has broad bipartisan, bicameral support. We continue to urge all legislators to support it, so that it may pass both chambers this time around. Again, many members share that sentiment and pledge to actively work with us on getting it passed.
With looming negotiations set to take place on the federal budget and the debt ceiling, Congress is going to get very busy very quickly. NASS remains hard at work keeping our issues on the forefront of legislator’s minds. As these next two years begin to take shape, we will keep fighting for the needs of all spine specialists and their patients.