Upcoming Events and Deadlines
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Overarching ACC News
Top Science and Quality News
Top Advocacy and Health Policy News
Top Education and Career Growth News
Top Membership News
Digital ACC Resources

Upcoming Events and Deadlines:

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Overarching ACC News:

JACC Leadership Page: The Seven Deadly Sins of Health Care
In a recent Leadership Page published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC discusses the “seven deadly sins of public health.” For part one of this two-part series, Williams focuses on the sins of greed, complacency, timidity, and obstinacy and “the challenges they pose to public health and what is being done to overcome them.” He explains how the College’s endeavors, including the development of appropriate use criteria and guidelines, the growth of registry programs and the recent changes made to the ACC’s governance structure, are working to protect both physicians and patients from these sins. Read more.

JACC Leadership Page: Diversifying Our Ranks, A Call to Action
In a Leadership Page published Feb. 1 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC, and ACC President-Elect Richard A. Chazal, MD, FACC, discuss the importance of provider diversity. They cite a study presented this past November and simultaneously published in JACC which showed “not only substantial salary differences between male and female practicing cardiologists, but also dramatically different job descriptions – despite sharing the same specialty.” They explain that “we need to pay special attention not only to this particular issue, but also to the broader issue of workforce diversity,” and add that “The ACC can and must be both a leader and a convener in this area.” Read more.

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Top Science and Quality News

New Quality Measure Core Sets Provide Continuity For Measuring Quality Improvement
The Core Quality Measures Collaborative, convened by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and America’s Health Insurance Plans, has announced six core quality measure sets, including one for cardiology, that are intended to make “quality measurement more useful and meaningful for consumers, employers, clinicians and public and private payers.” The ACC has been involved in the Collaborative since 2014 and played an instrumental role in shaping the final cardiology core measure set. However, both the ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA), while applauding the work of the Collaborative, are expressing concern about the inclusion of two conflicting measures addressing blood pressure control for patients with hypertension given their potential to confuse patients and providers. “Though we recognize that the inclusion of these two measures was a compromise agreed to by the members of the Collaborative in order to achieve a consensus, AHA and ACC have concerns with the inclusion of the HEDIS 2016 measure in these core measure sets because of its potential to result in an increased population of patients with higher blood pressure,” write ACC President-Elect Richard A. Chazal, MD, FACC, and AHA President Mark A. Creager, MD, FACC, in an editorial published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Hypertension. Read more on the measures.

AUC For Diagnostic Imaging of Patients With Chest Pain Released
New recommendations on the appropriate use of diagnostic imaging for patients with chest pain were released Jan. 22 by the ACC and the American College of Radiology and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Led by Frank J. Rybicki, MD, PhD; James E. Udelson, MD, FACC; and W. Frank Peacock, MD, co-chairs of the Emergency Department Patients With Chest Pain Writing Panel, two panels of cardiology and radiology specialists reviewed evidence-based medicine, existing guidelines and practice experience to address appropriate use criteria in 20 fundamental clinical scenarios for emergency imaging in patients who present to the emergency department with chest pain. Each recommendation assesses when imaging is useful in a given scenario, as well as what information is provided by the specified imaging procedure. Read more on ACC.org.

American Heart Month: Find Your Heart a Home
In a recent post on the ACC in Touch Blog, as part of a series for American Heart Month, Gregory J. Dehmer, MD, MACC, chair of the NCDR Public Reporting Advisory Group, discusses ACC’s public reporting campaign, Find Your Heart a Home, powered by CardioSmart. “Similar to how people can research hotels and restaurants online, Find Your Heart a Home enables patients and their caregivers to search and select hospitals based on the cardiac services provided and data related to the quality of care delivered,” states Dehmer. Read more on the ACC in Touch Blog and be sure to join @CardioSmart for a Heart Month Twitter Chat on patient engagement, shared decision-making and Find Your Heart a Home. The chat will take place on Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. ET. To join the conversation, use hashtag #CardioChat.

Learn How to Enhance Quality Improvement at NCDR.16
Practice quality improvement efforts, quality reporting and value-based reimbursement are here to stay, and will play a critical role in provider payment models moving forward. The ACC’s NCDR Annual Conference (NCDR.16) held immediately prior to ACC’s Annual Scientific Session in Chicago, IL, offers a unique opportunity for physicians and other cardiovascular professionals to learn more about the College’s clinical registry programs and how they can be leveraged to meet growing quality improvement requirements. The two-day meeting, held March 31 – April 1, 2016, will offer registry-specific workshops on topics ranging from how to access and interpret outcome reports and dashboard data, to proper input of challenging data elements and understanding registry metrics. Inter-professional workshops will also cover topics such as how to build a quality improvement team and how to implement quality improvement programs. Over 1,000 registry professionals, quality experts, physicians and administrators from across the country are expected to attend. Learn more and register for NCDR.16 at CVQuality.ACC.org/NCDRAnnualConference.

PINNACLE Registry Launches Atrial Fibrillation Management Toolkit
As part of our efforts to better respond to the needs of cardiovascular professionals and improve treatment and outcomes for patients, the American College of Cardiology is now offering the Preventing Preventable Strokes (PPS) toolkit to drive quality improvements for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF). This toolkit is the result of a major initiative involving contributions from numerous PINNACLE practices. The PPS toolkit offers both provider and patient-focused materials, arming PINNACLE practices with new evidence-based quality improvement tools and best practices. Topics include common barriers to optimal care, patient education, and managing and balancing stroke and bleed risks. Stroke prevention relies on patients’ adherence to prescribed medical therapies. Still, providers and/or the healthcare system have a significant impact on patients’ ability to receive optimal care, as patients cannot adhere to medications that are not prescribed to them. The overall Preventing Preventable Strokes Quality Improvement Initiative engages physicians and their practices in identifying anticoagulant treatment gaps and driving guidelines-compliant medical decision making. The PPS toolkit is a central component of this overall initiative. Start utilizing these tools in your practices today and please be on the lookout for an invite to participate in our survey in the coming weeks.

PINNACLE Registry Hits New Milestones
The ACC continues to broaden the reach of its outpatient cardiovascular data registries. The PINNACLE Registry has recently hit a new important milestone, exceeding six million unique patients and 25 million encounters. This is a significant threshold for all registry stakeholders, including outcome researchers, data-submitting clinicians and PINNACLE Research Alliance participants. The registry's sustained growth in the number of patients drives care improvement by contributing to the national benchmarking. The PINNACLE Registry has experienced growth not only at the national level, but also internationally. Most recently the ACC partnered with the Mexico Chapter, in collaboration with both the Sociedad Mexicana de Cardiología and the Asociación Nacional de Cardiólogos de México, to establish a registry network that is aligned with the PINNACLE Registry. Read More>>>

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Top Advocacy and Health Policy News

Grassroots Spotlight on Anita Arnold, DO, FACC
In a recent post on the ACC in Touch Blog, Anita Arnold, DO, FACC, a member of ACC's Health Affairs Committee, discusses her grassroots advocacy efforts with the ACC Florida Chapter. "I was under the mistaken impression that congressional members were very much aware of the issues, and would not want to talk with me about them. But as it turns out, if health care is not a priority of theirs, they know very little and are interested in dialoguing with a representative of an important group such as the ACC." Read more about Arnold's grassroots journey. In 2015, ACC members participated in nearly 60 legislator practice visits, in-district meetings and fundraisers. To set up a legislator visit, contact Kelly Memphis (state) at kmemphis@acc.org or Elizabeth Shaw (federal) at eshaw@acc.org.

PQRS Submission Deadline Extended
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the deadline for 2015 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) Electronic Health Record submissions to March 11 at 8 p.m. ET. According to CMS, “Eligible professionals who do not satisfactorily report quality measure data to meet the 2015 PQRS requirements will be subject to a negative PQRS payment adjustment on all Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) services rendered in 2017.” Read more.

EHR Attestation Deadline Extended
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the 2015 attestation deadline for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs to March 11 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The deadline was originally scheduled for Feb. 29. According to CMS, those participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program can attest through the CMS Registration and Attestation System, with the exception of providers, who should refer to their respective states for attestation information and deadlines.

Changes to EHR Hardship Exception Process
If you were unable to meet the requirements of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program for 2015 because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delayed releasing modifications to the Stage 2 program or you had issues updating your EHR, you can file for a hardship exception and avoid a 2017 payment adjustment. New hardship exception applications and instructions for the 2017 EHR payment adjustment are available here. Section 2.2d of the application offers eligible professionals the opportunity to apply for the new hardship exception. The ACC encourages all eligible professionals to consider applying in the event that they did not meet requirements for the 2015 program year. Changes to the hardship exception process stem from the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, a culmination of efforts by the ACC and other medical societies to spur Congress to provide relief. The changes aim to reduce the burden on eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals. To take advantage of the new process and this new exception, eligible professionals must submit their applications by March 15, 2016. As part of the changes, groups of providers can now submit a single application to apply for a hardship exception. Eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals must submit applications by April 1, 2016. Additional information is available on the CMS website.

CMS LAA Coverage Reflects ACC Feedback
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted a final decision memorandum solidifying a national coverage determination (NCD) for percutaneous left atrial appendage (LAA) closure. CMS will cover LAA closure for non-valvular atrial fibrillation patients with a CHADS2 score ? 2 or a CHA21DS2-VASc score ? 3 who can take short-term warfarin but are unable to take long-term oral anticoagulants. The ACC, in conjunction with the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and the Heart Rhythm Society, submitted joint comments on the proposed NCD last year. Many of the changes recommended in the letter were made, such as removal of a requirement for registries to capture data on non-interventional controls. Other coverage aspects include a documented shared decision making interaction with a non-interventional physician using an evidence-based decision tool, performance of the procedure by operators with trans-septal puncture experience at hospitals with an established structural heart disease and/or electrophysiology program, and facility participation in an approved national registry that consecutively enrolls LAA patients and tracks outcomes. The NCDR's LAAO Registry will apply for approval in the near future, enabling sites to comply with coverage requirements. Read more on ACC.org.

ACC Crafts Stark Law Principles
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee recently held a closed-door roundtable to discuss current challenges facing providers trying to comply with the Stark law, also known as the physician self-referral law. Furthermore, they discussed ways to improve the law, particularly in light of the recently passed Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. In response to a request for stakeholder input, the ACC developed principles related to any policy changes in this area. ACC Advocacy stressed a need for simplification, to reduce the exorbitant legal fees and administrative burdens currently imposed on clinicians, as well as revisions to distinguish between willful and inadvertent violations of the law.

If You're Not at the Table, You're on the Menu
In a recent Fellows in Training (FIT) and Early Career Page in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Sandeep Kumar Krishnan, MD, an FIT at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, encourages all ACC members to get involved in advocacy, beginning in fellowship. "It is our turn as [FITs] to step up and build upon the [advocacy] foundation laid by our predecessors," says Krishnan. "We should do everything we can to ensure that we continue to improve the stature of our profession in the eyes of our patients and our legislators." In a response, Ralph G. Brindis, MD, MPH, MACC, states that he shares these "enthusiastic 'rallying call' and encourage our [FITs], cardiac care associates, and [FACCs] to become actively involved in the noble mission of advocacy. It is a particularly powerful and effective advocacy strategy when the full complement of the cardiovascular team appears at their congressman's office sharing personal stories surrounding patient care."

Get Up-to-Date on Value-Based Payment
Last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced an accelerated transition to alternative payment models (APMs) for Medicare recipients with a target of 30 percent of payments linked to value in 2016 and 50 percent in 2018. As part of the effort to transition America's health care system from volume to value, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN), which convenes providers, consumers, purchasers, states and federal partners to establish a common pathway for success. The ACC, as an early follower of the LAN, acquired partner status in 2015. The Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF) is another group dedicated to advancing value-based payment. The HCTTF, which brings together providers, payers, purchasers and consumers, was formed in early 2015 with the goal of having 75 percent of respective businesses operating under value-based payment arrangements by 2020.Both of these groups are key players to follow in the movement to a value-based reimbursement environment. Read more about the LAN and HCTTF. The LAN's recently released APM Framework White Paper is available here.

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Top Education and Career Growth News

ACC Impacts on MOC Process: Success But Still a Partial Victory
In a recent post on the ACC in Touch Blog, ACC’s Presidential Team provides a summary of the recent changes to the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM’s) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process and discusses ACC’s recommendations for further changes. In a recent meeting with the ABIM, ACC’s Presidential Team “clearly communicated [the College’s] needs to ABIM in order to make the MOC process useful and effective for cardiologists, as well as for our patients.” They add that “heading into 2016, the College will continue to press ahead with efforts to turn these recommendations into reality … This remains an utmost priority for the College and we intend to prevail.” Check out ACC’s online MOC hub, as well as the ACC in Touch Blog, for complete information on all of the changes, as well as information on frequently asked questions on recertification. Read more on the ACC in Touch Blog.

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Top Membership News

Is Your ACC Member Profile Up-To-Date?
The ACC wants to make sure it's sending members only the most relevant information. To that end, the College is encouraging all members to update their ACC profile, including contact information, specialty areas, clinical interest areas and practice information. Don’t miss out on the latest cardiovascular research, new clinical guidelines, advocacy updates, ACC news and member benefits. Update your profile online at ACC.org/MyProfile.

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Digital ACC Resources

Free ACCEL Access for FITs
Did you know that Fellows in Training receive unlimited, complimentary access to ACC’s ACCEL audio journal. Sign up for this unique membership benefit here.

Stay In Touch with the ACC via Social Media
Stay in touch with the ACC and the latest clinical and advocacy news through ACC in Touch. ACCinTouch connects ACC members and those interested in cardiovascular news through popular social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Join each of these networks to connect with ACC members and those interested in cardiology. In addition to the ACC's main Twitter profile @ACCinTouch, the College also has a profile dedicated to advocacy-related news (@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 ACC.org/ACCinTouch.

ACC Archived Webinars
Did you know that you can find archived webinars from throughout the years from the ACC on ACC.org? As a member, you have access to this wealth of information here. To access them, you must have an ACC.org log-in and use the confirmation code and webinar access link emailed to you once you. Questions? Contact ACC’s Resource Center at Phone: 202-375-6000, ext. 5603 or 800-253-4636, ext. 5603 or resource@acc.org.

Download ACC’s Advocacy Action Mobile App
Be sure to download the ACC Advocacy Action mobile app to get easy access to ACC's advocacy priorities and timely talking points to share during congressional visits. The app was designed to help members engage with lawmakers and influence health policy. Download it today on iTunes (iPhone, iPad) and Google Play (Android devices).

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