New AUC Methodology and ICD/Cardiac Resynchronization AUC Released
ACC.13 is Around the Corner; Prep with New Meeting Tools
Special Session at ACC.12 for Military/Public Health Members
ACC Goes Mobile
Health Insurance Exchanges on the Horizon
Cardiology Teams Up Against Cuts to Medicare, Research and Review Process
Ever Expanding Digital Age" Prompts Changes to HIPAA
ACC President Focuses on An Opportunity to Shape the Future
New Data Standards Released for ACS and CAD
Effects of Sunshine on the Health of Cardiology
Report Highlights Cost of Freezing SGR
Medicare Audit Efforts Escalate
Have You Put Choosing Wisely into Practice?
FDA Approves IDE for ACC and STS to Study Alternative Approaches to TAVR
Revamped CardioSmart.org Launched This Month
Important Deadline Approaching PQRS
New on the ACC in Touch Blog:
Special ACC Partnership Helps You Save on Medical Liability Coverage
Stay In Touch with the ACC Via Social Media



New AUC Methodology and ICD/Cardiac Resynchronization AUC Released
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has released changes to the process for developing appropriate use criteria (AUC), including changes to frequently misinterpreted terminology for describing the levels of appropriateness of care. Under the updated methodology, published on Feb. 21 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, appropriateness of procedures or use of imaging for specific populations will be described as "appropriate," "may be appropriate," or "rarely appropriate." The new terminology and definitions more accurately reflect how AUC should be used for quality improvement and clinically, including consideration for physician judgment, measurement of patterns of use over time and the potential hazard of applying inflexible rules to individual patient situations," said AUC Writing Committee Chair and lead author Robert C. Hendel, MD, FACC. The new terminology will be applied in development of all subsequent appropriate use criteria. The first new AUC document using the new terms was released on Feb. 28 and is focused on implantable cardiac defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization. Learn more on CardioSource.org.

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ACC.13 is Around the Corner; Prep with New Meeting Tools
The ACC.13 eMeeting Planner App and Online Planner tools are available to easily explore sessions, presentations and speakers. In addition, you can browse PDFs of the sessions — by day or by pathway —in order to easily plan your itinerary. Learn more about all the planning toolsavailable to help you make the most of ACC.13! Also plan to follow the ACC on Twitter, Facebook and the ACC in Touch Blog for the latest news and discussions related to the meeting. Coverage of the meeting will be available here, as well.

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Special Session at ACC.12 for Military/Public Health Members
Are you a Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs (VA) or Public Health member? Attend a special breakout session just for you on March 10 from 12 – 2 p.m. at ACC.13, hosted by the ACC Board of Governors. Topics will include the future of VA Cardiac Implantable Electrophysiology Device Management, the Million Hearts initiative, and a panel discussion concerning the transition from military to civilian practice. The meeting will include lunch and will be held at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis in room Golden Gate C1. RSVP here or contact Ashton Futral with questions.

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ACC Goes Mobile
With the increase in use of technologies such as Smartphones, tablets and e-readers, the ACC has developed several mobile resources to help both CV professionals and patients. Highlights of each app are as follows:

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Health Insurance Exchanges on the Horizon
Starting Jan. 1, 2014 all states must have fully operational Health insurance exchanges in place. Health insurance exchanges, also known as HIXs or marketplaces, will be a one stop shop for all individuals and small businesses to compare and choose among an array of affordable, comprehensive options, and purchase health insurance plans. The states have been preparing for these exchanges since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 and have had a choice to opt for a state based exchange, federally facilitated exchange or a partnership exchange. See what your state is opting for. The exchanges will certify and offer plans that cover the 10 categories of essential health benefits (EHBs) required as part of the ACA. The proposed rule for the EHBs was released in November 2012 and the final rule is expected soon.

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Cardiology Teams Up Against Cuts to Medicare, Research and Review Process
The ACC and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama taking aim at the “triple threat” of across the board cuts to Medicare, the research infrastructure, and the drug and device review process that both cardiology and oncology face. Without stable federal funding, continued advances in diagnostics, drug and device therapies, prevention and public education for cardiovascular disease and cancer—the two leading causes of death in the U.S.—are in jeopardy. The College and ASCO reconfirmed support for a reformed Medicare physician payment system that ensures cost-effective quality care for patients nationwide.

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Ever Expanding Digital Age" Prompts Changes to HIPAA
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this month released privacy and security updates to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While the previous law primarily focused on ensuring providers and health plans protected health information, the latest changes extend these requirements to "business associates" including contractors and subcontractors. Additionally, the updates detail requirements for reporting Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) breaches to HHS. As a follow-up, HHS released sample business associate greement language for bringing contracts into compliance with the updated rule. For covered entities and business associates, the compliance deadline for most requirements is Sept. 23, 2013. Changes to existing agreements must be made by September 2014.

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ACC President Focuses on An Opportunity to Shape the Future
In the February President’s Page, published in the Feb. 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), William A. Zoghbi, MD, FACC, highlights the history, principles, and concerns surrounding public reporting, opportunities for registries and professional societies moving forward, and why it’s time to engage. “Armed with valid and robust data, meaningful performance measures, and a commitment to continuous improvement, cardiovascular specialists and the care teams that assist them will be well-prepared to thrive in an era of public reporting and to lead the way toward a more transparent, and healthier, health care system,” writes Zoghbi.

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New Data Standards Released for ACS and CAD
Key elements and definitions for the clinical management of patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and coronary artery disease (CAD) were published in JACC this month. The new clinical data standards aim to standardize terminology and help improve transfer of health data for research initiatives, clinical registries, structured reporting, and use within electronic health records to enhance effective communication among health care professionals. Complete coverage is available here.

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Effects of Sunshine on the Health of Cardiology
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released the long-awaited final regulation implementing the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, also referred to as the PPSA or Sunshine Act. The rule, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, requires public reporting by manufacturers of medical products and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) of all payments or transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership or investment interests held by physicians or immediate family members of physicians in such manufacturers and GPOs. Although required by Congress to implement the law and begin data collection by Jan. 1, 2012, the lengthy delays in the release of the proposed and then final regulations by CMS mean that data collection will not begin until Aug. 1, 2013, delaying reporting by applicable manufacturers and GPOs to CMS until March 31, 2014 and public reporting until Sept. 30, 2014. Get the details on who the law applies to, what must be reported, the impact on research, how the rule will impact ACC involvement, and more.

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Report Highlights Cost of Freezing SGR
Budget and Economic projections for 2013-2023, released by the Congressional Budget Office recently, shed light on the true cost of a ten year freeze of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The updated projection stands at $138 billion, more than $100 billion below earlier estimates. This steep drop stems from lower than expected Medicare physician spending growth. Read the full report.

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Medicare Audit Efforts Escalate
A report released by CMS unveiled a significant jump in recovery efforts by Medicare Audit Contractors (RAC) from 2010 to 2011. For fiscal year 2011, RACs returned $488 million in improper payments to the Medicare Trust Fund. While almost $500 million was actually returned, RACs identified and corrected overpayments and underpayments of $939 million in 2011 compared to $92 million in 2010. In addition to Medicaid and Medicare Part D, RAC efforts are expected to expand to Medicare Part C this summer. Learn more about RACs on CardioSource.org.

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Have You Put Choosing Wisely into Practice?
The College is interested in hearing from you about how the Choosing Wisely® campaign, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation that aims to spark conversations about appropriate care between physicians and patients, is affecting the way you practice. Are you having more conversations with your patients about avoiding unnecessary care? How are those conversations playing out, and how are they being received by patients? What is working well, and what—if anything—is proving to be more challenging? Please share your story by emailing advocate@acc.org. Read more about the success of the campaign.

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FDA Approves IDE for ACC and STS to Study Alternative Approaches to TAVR
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an investigational device exemption (IDE) to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) to conduct a study assessing alternative access approaches for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Currently, only the transfemoral approach to TAVR using the Edwards SAPIEN valve and, in some cases, the transapical approach have been approved in the U.S. However, an estimated one out of four patients are not eligible for this approach due to inadequate vessel size, vessel disease and/or other anatomical considerations. The IDE – the first-ever filed for by either organization – will assess the safety and effectiveness of alternative access approaches (i.e. axillary, transapical, transaortic, subclavian/axillary) in these patients with severe aortic stenosis who are inoperable or extreme risk patients where transfemoral insertion is contraindicated. Read more on CardioSource.org.

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Revamped CardioSmart.org Launched This Month
CardioSmart.org rolled out its revamped collection of digital tools and resources this month designed to help individuals prevent, treat and manage cardiovascular disease. The updated new site includes more than 30 robust cardiovascular condition centers, available in English and Spanish, that guide patients through each stage of their journey including causes, symptoms and treatments. Users can personalize their page by identifying topic areas of interest and by saving noteworthy news or questions to ask their doctor to their dashboard. CardioSmart.org tools such as Find a Drug, Preparing for Your Next Appointment and Ask an Expert enhance the patient-provider relationship. Users can set goals with their care team and track progress using our weight, waist, blood pressure, and activity trackers and our heart risk, BMI and cholesterol calculators. Users can also connect with peers on our online communities, take heart healthy challenges, earn CardioSmart points and spend them in our CardioSmart Store.

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Important Deadline Approaching PQRS
March 14 is the deadline to participate in the CMS 2012 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). You can still use the ACC PQRIwizard to submit your data. The 2012 PQRS incentive payment is equal to 0.5 percent of allowed charges for Part B covered services. Learn more.

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New on the ACC in Touch Blog:
Check out the ACC’s Blog at blog.cardiosource.org for multiple posts each week on hot topics. This month, there are posts on congenital heart disease, cardiac rehabilitation and Hospital-to-Home, Fellows-in-Training at ACC.13, the revitalized Prevention Committee and more including:

The Heart Team approach is the subject of a Feb. 25 post by ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC. “ This team approach, inclusive of shared-decision making with patients, is at the crux of patient-centered care,” he writes. “It is also the crux of a State-of-the-Art paper published on Feb. 25 in JACC … [that] highlights the many ways that managing care for patients with complex cardiovascular disease has changed substantially over the last decade with the advent of appropriate use criteria, advances in information technology, and an increasing amount of evidence-based data.”

CCAs are the focus of a Feb. 19 post by Eileen M. Handberg, PhD, ARNP-BC, FACC, and Margo B. Minissian, RN, ACNP-BC, CLS, AACC.The post explores all of the ways the care team is involved in ACC.13 programming.

A Feb. 4 post focuses on leadership – and includes a video interview with incoming ACC Board of Governors Chair David May, MD, FACC.

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Special ACC Partnership Helps You Save on Medical Liability Coverage
Founded by doctors for doctors, The Doctors Company has partnered with the ACC to provide discounts on medical liability coverage for ACC members. The Doctors Company provides a unique combination of coverage features, aggressive claims defense, superior protection, and unrivaled rewards, including the Tribute® Plan, a groundbreaking financial benefit that rewards members for their loyalty and commitment to outstanding patient care.Visit CardioSource.org/TheDoctorsCompany to get a no-obligation quote and more information.

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Stay In Touch with the ACC Via Social Media
Stay in touch with the ACC and the latest clinical and advocacy news through ACCinTouch. ACCinTouch connects ACC members and those interested in cardiovascular news through popular social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Look for the ACCinTouch logo for the official ACC presence on these social media channels in order to connect with ACC members and those interested in cardiology. In addition to the ACC's main Twitter profile@ACCinTouch, the College also has profiles dedicated to the ACC.13 Annual Meeting @ACC_2013 as well as news from the Advocacy team @Cardiology. CardioSmart, the ACC's patient education and support program, also has patient-centered cardiovascular news available throughFacebook, Twitter @CardioSmart, andYouTube. For more information about ACC’s social media channels, visit CardioSource.org/ACCinTouch.

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