Overarching News
Top Science and Quality News
Top Advocacy and Health Policy News
Top Education News
Webinars, Events, Deadlines and More: Mark Your Calendar
Social Media


Overarching News

ACC President Says Being Heart Healthy is a ‘Lifestyle’
ACC President John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, discusses why men and women of all backgrounds are at risk for heart disease and stresses the importance of an active lifestyle in a foreward in USA Today as part of a cardiovascular wellness campaign. "Heart health should be practiced by everyone 365 days a year," says Harold. "It is more than a visit to the doctor or a daily pill — it is a lifestyle.” Read more here.

JACC President’s Page (March): Back to the Future
The latest President’s Page in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology examines the strides the College has made in developing and implementing a digital strategy over the past year. ACC President John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, discusses how recent accomplishments meet the primary objectives of the digital strategy: 1) improving how we communicate; 2) encouraging patient education; and 3) enhancing the ability to obtain continuing education at the point of care. He describes efforts currently underway to transform CardioSource.org, enhanced mobile application offerings, the increasing effectiveness and reach of the College’s social media efforts, improvements to CardioSmart.org and exciting additions to the College's Lifelong Learning Portfolio. Read more about these valuable advances in technology and the next big phase for the College – implementing a new, 5-year strategic plan.

JACC President’s Page (February): A Lesson in Partnerships, Member Values, and Patient Education
In a recent President's Page in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ACC President John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, discusses how the ACC is working with other societies, federal agencies, international health groups and patient organizations on a number of fronts to highlight the importance of prevention and the need for public health policies and programs at the state, national and global levels. Harold also highlights how the College continues to fight for policies at both the state and national level that improve patient access to cost-effective, evidence-based cardiovascular care. Read about these efforts and more.

CardioSmart at Upcoming Chapter Meetings
Keep your eyes peeled for representatives from ACC’s CardioSmart patient initiative at your upcoming Chapter meetings. CardioSmart has many new patient-friendly tools and resources plus an updated CardioSmart.org website available that can help ACC members help patients become more educated and heart healthy. Learn more here.

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Top Science and Quality News:

ASCVD Risk Estimator Now Available
The ACC and the AHA recently released the ASCVD Risk Estimator, a mobile app to help health care providers and patients estimate 10-year and lifetime risks for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) using the Pooled Cohort Equations and lifetime risk prediction tools. This app was designed as a companion tool to the 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk and the 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults. The ASCVD Risk Estimator provides easy access to recommendations specific to calculated risk estimates. Additionally, the app includes readily accessible guideline reference information for both providers and patients related to therapy, monitoring and lifestyle. To download the app on iTunes (iPhone, iPad), click here. To download the app on Google Play (Galaxy, Nexus, other Android devices), click here. A desktop version of the tool is also available here. To explore other ACC apps that can help you optimize patient care, visit CardioSource.org/Apps.

ACC Celebrates Launch of Patient Navigator Program
The ACC has welcomed 15 hospitals into the Patient Navigator Program, an initiative that aims to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions by providing personalized support to patients diagnosed with Acute Coronary Syndrome, heart attack, and heart failure. ACC leaders and representatives from AstraZeneca, the founding sponsor of the program, have attended launch events at hospitals across the country in recent months. The most recent hospital launches include Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Christiana Care Health System and Saint Mary's Hospital. Visit CardioSource.org for more information about the ACC Patient Navigator Program.

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Top Advocacy and Health Policy News:

Virginia Passes CCHD Screening Legislation
On Feb. 20, Virginia became the latest state to pass critical congenital heart defect (CCHD) screening legislation when Governor Terry McAuliffe signed HB 387 into law. The bill requires all hospitals in Virginia that have a newborn nursery to perform a CCHD screening test on every newborn in its care when the child is at least 24 hours old but no more than 48 hours old. The bill also directs the Board of Health to convene a workgroup of all stakeholders, including the Virginia Chapter of the ACC, to provide information and recommendations for the development of regulations to implement the act within 280 days of enactment. This news was a huge win for CHD advocates who gathered in Washington, DC, just days after the legislation passed to educate members of Congress about CHD as part of Congenital Heart Advocacy Day 2014. Read more on the ACC in Touch Blog.

ACCPAC Invites Chapters to Participate in March Madness
ACC Political Action Committee (PAC) has created a March Madness campaign to coincide with the widely popular March Madness college basketball tournament. ACCPAC will donate a ,000 Legislative Conference scholarship to the chapter that wins its “division.” Check out the rules of the competition. Please spread the word about this initiative and get your chapter engaged! Contributions can be made at www.ACCPACWeb.org. The winner of each division will be announced on March 30 at the BOG/FIT/ECP reception during ACC.14. The reception will take place at City Tap House, 901 I St. NW, from 6 – 8 p.m.

SGR Battle Continues, Contact Congress
After 11 years since the first sustainable growth rate (SGR) patch was passed into law, the medical community continues to battle to permanently repeal the flawed formula and replace it with a new Medicare payment system that rewards high quality, evidence-based care. With the House and Senate recently advancing a bill that would eliminate the SGR, a permanent solution is closer than ever. However, passage of the legislation is not a done deal and another temporary patch is still a possibility. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to complete work on permanent SGR repeal.

Medicare Cardiac Rehab Coverage Expansion
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently expanded coverage of cardiac rehabilitation services to chronic heart failure patients. The decision memo finalized changes to the national coverage determination (NCD) for cardiac rehabilitation. Specifically, this includes "beneficiaries with stable, chronic heart failure defined as patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of 35 percent or less and New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV symptoms despite being on optimal heart failure therapy for at least six weeks." The ACC worked with the American Heart Association (AHA), American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Heart Failure Society of America last year to request this expansion. The change takes place immediately. CMS will publish additional guidance in the coming months.

CMS Issues Guidance for New Pacemaker Coverage
Directions for coding and documenting the implantation of permanent cardiac pacemakers under the NCD that was updated last year are now available from CMS. The article highlights the covered indications (documented non-reversible symptomatic bradycardia due to sinus node dysfunction, second degree atrioventricular block, and/or third degree atrioventricular block), notes that Medicare Administrative Contractors will determine coverage for any other indications not specifically addressed in the NCD, and that use of the KX modifier will be used to attest that documentation is on file verifying the patient has non-reversible symptomatic bradycardia. View the complete article for other key billing notes.

ICD-10 Update
CMS recently announced that it will conduct end-to-end ICD-10 testing for select providers. This news comes after the AMA urged CMS to "reconsider the mandated adoption of the new code set" as a result of new cost estimates for physician implementation of the new ICD-10 code set that far exceed previous estimates. Find out what you need to know about the ICD-10 transition on CardioSource.org.

New Statement on CV Imaging Examines Efficiency of Quality, Patient Outcomes and Costs
A new health policy statement on the use of noninvasive cardiovascular imaging, released by the ACC and endorsed by 14 other medical societies, discusses the current understanding about the patterns and drivers of imaging use, along with patient safety and test quality. It also notes that a more patient-centric approach to guiding appropriate use is needed versus payer-driven reimbursement reductions and prior authorization requirements. The statement identifies the role physician groups play in promoting appropriate imaging use. For example, the ACC’s Imaging in FOCUS initiative pairs local chapters with health plans to reduce geographic variation in imaging use and lower the rate of “rarely appropriate” tests. Get full coverage on CardioSource.org.

Health IT Reaches Milestone
The five year anniversary of the enactment of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the creation of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program was in February 2014. The HITECH Act and EHR Incentive Program propelled the adoption and "meaningful use" of health information technology. Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Program has launched, and eligible professionals (EPs) who began participating before 2013 should now be moving onto stage 2. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that the deadline for EPs to register and attest to demonstrating "meaningful use" for the 2013 EHR Incentive Program in order to quality for an incentive payment for 2013 participation and avoid a 2015 payment adjustment has been delayed from Feb. 28 to March 31. Review this participation guide for more details and take advantage of these tools to help you and your practice implement EHRs.

ACC and AHA Teaming Up Against Trans Fats
The ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA) expressed support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) tentative determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) no longer be considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in food. A letter. to the FDA underscored the significant health risks associated with consumption of PHOs, or industrially-produced trans fat, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The ACC and AHA urged the FDA to finalize its determination, revoke the GRAS status, and require food manufacturers to remove PHOs from their products as quickly and efficiently as possible. "Taking industrially-produced trans fat out of foods will help Americans reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and avoid other negative health effects," the organizations stressed. "AHA and ACC stand ready to support the FDA in its work to eliminate this unsafe ingredient from our food supply." Read the full comments here.

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Top Education News:

Everything You Need to Know About ABIM’s MOC Changes
In response to new and significant changes to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements, the ACC’s Education Quality Review Board (EQRB) released a special report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) outlining the changes and EQRB efforts to help ACC members both understand and meet the new requirements. The new MOC requirements, which became effective on Jan. 1, apply to all certified physicians and require specific proactive steps on the part of physicians between now and the end of March, as well as over the next two years. Also, be sure to take a look at JACC commentary by Steven Lloyd, MD, PhD, FACC and ACC President-Elect, Patrick O’Gara, MD, FACC which illustrates ACC’s promise and plan on mastering MOC changes. For more MOC resources from the ACC, visit these:

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Webinars, Events, Deadlines and More: Mark Your Calendar

NCDR.14 to Feature Educational Sessions for Physicians and Administrators
The NCDR’s Annual Conference, taking place immediately prior to ACC.14 on March 27 – 28, will offer CME and CE credit for physicians and hospital administrators looking for ways to leverage their registry participation. Topics will include understanding and using NCDR data for quality improvement, payers and maintenance of certification credit; leveraging health information technology to enhance NCDR data quality and public reporting; and building an effective cardiovascular quality team. Visit NCDR.com to learn more and register.

Special Session at ACC.14 for Military/Public Health Members
Are you a United States Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs or Public Health Service member? Attend a special breakout session just for you hosted by the ACC Board of Governors at ACC.14 on March 30 from 12 – 2 p.m. Topics will include The HAIMS Project, Million Hearts initiative, and a panel discussion covering the different sections of federal cardiology from administration to research. The meeting will include lunch and will be held at the Renaissance Downtown Washington, D.C. hotel in room West A. RSVP here or contact Ashton Futral with questions.

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Social Media:

New on the ACC in Touch Blog
Check out the newly revamped ACC in Touch Blog at blog.cardiosource.org for multiple posts each week on hot topics. Here are some of the hottest recent posts:

This is just a sampling of what is happening on the blog. There are many more posts available – check them out here and be sure to comment.

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 news from the Advocacy team @Cardiology. CardioSmart, the ACC's patient education and support program, also has patient-centered cardiovascular news available through Facebook, Twitter @CardioSmart, and YouTube. For more information about ACC’s social media channels, visit CardioSource.org/ACCinTouch.

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