NASS Insider


December 20, 2022


Looking Back on Advocacy in 2022


As 2022 comes to an end, it is important to look back on the work done by the staff and many volunteers NASS has advocating the federal government on behalf of spine care. Over the years, the NASS advocacy program has become more robust to include direct legislative lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and political giving. Through these different methods, we are able to have significant impact on many legislative priorities that affect the day-to-day operations of NASS members.

This year saw the passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation supported and advocated by NASS. Because of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, health care workers will have better access to education and training on preventing stress and burnout before the need becomes dire. In addition, there will be more access to mental and behavioral health support and treatment and importantly, more employers will be able to engage with their workforce on these issues, provide greater resources, and accelerate promising solutions.

NASS is also working diligently to ensure that end-of-the-year spending bill Congress must pass by December 23 includes a patch to the proposed 8.47 percent cuts to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). NASS is not only fighting to ensure further cuts to the fee schedule, but it is also one of the leading voices pushing for Congressional change to the Medicare Fee Schedule so physicians are no longer facing these cuts on a yearly basis – a concept that is starting to gain recognition with House Members of Congress.

2022 also saw the NASS-supported Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3173/S. 3018) unanimously pass the House of Representatives. The bill would require that Medicare Advantage plans establish an electronic prior authorization program that meets specified standards (including the ability to provide real-time decisions in response to requests for items and services that are routinely approved) and annually publish specified prior authorization information (including the percentage of requests approved and the average response time). NASS has championed the legislation in virtual fly-ins in 2020, 2021, and earlier this year. Public support for the legislation was issued by NASS in May of 2021. Hundreds on NASS members across the country have contacted their members of Congress through the NASS Action Network webportal. It has also been a top priority of SpinePAC. NASS has even been one of the lead organizations in the Regulatory Relief Coalition – a consortium of physician and provider groups focused on the passage of prior authorization reform legislation – participating in group meetings with Members of Congress and developing the coalition’s social media and communications strategy. We continue to push for passage of this bill before the Senate adjourns at the end of the year.

And while not directly addressed by Congress, there has been plenty of action around implementation of the No Surprises Act and NASS has been at the forefront of all of it. Most recently, NASS joined the filing of an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit against the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management on the implementation of the No Surprises Act. Led by the Texas Medical Association, the lawsuit argues that the August final regulation unlawfully skews arbitration results in commercial insurers’ favor, in ways that violate the compromise Congress reached in the No Surprises Act. In so doing, the Texas plaintiffs state the final rule will harm health care providers and the patients they serve.

The political action committee of NASS, SpinePAC, also had a really stellar year given the continued financial burden that has been the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this article, SpinePAC has raised over $120,000 for 2022 and has contributed to the campaigns of 61 different Members of Congress with a near 95 percent success rate with those campaigns. This sort of political advocacy is instrumental to achieving our advocacy goals as it provides for opportunities to meet with Members of Congress outside the distractions of Capitol Hill and explain the effects that issues like the MPFS and surprise medical billing has on our practices and patients. While the dollars raised are great numbers, it is still shy of our goal of $150,000.00 for the year. If you need more information on SpinePAC, I urge that you going to spineadvocacy.org/Advocacy/SpinePAC.

NASS will continue to build off of the success we saw in 2022 next year and continue to strongly advocate on behalf of all spine specialists. If you would like more information on our legislative priorities or the Advocacy program, please reach out to our advocacy staff at Advocacy@Spine.org.

Philip L. Schneider, MD
Chair, NASS Advocacy Council
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