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Aid to the Philippines
Top Science News
ACC Taking Advocacy Action: What’s New?
Webinars, Events, Deadlines and More: Mark Your Calendar

Aid to the Philippines
The ACC, its leaders and staff are pulling together to help provide support for those in need following the devastation in the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas Region, caused by Typhoon Haiyan. ACC President recently heard from several cardiovascular colleagues since the Typhoon, including Philippine Heart Association President Eugene Reyes, MD, and ACC Philippines Chapter Governor Saturnino Javier, MD. Learn more on the ACC in Touch Blog about the ways you can help and read excerpts from Javier and Reyes’ letters to Harold about the impact of the storm thus far.

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Top Science News:

New Prevention Guidelines Released Nov. 12
The ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA), in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and other specialty societies, on Nov. 12 released four guidelines focused on the assessment of cardiovascular risk, lifestyle modifications to reduce cardiovascular risk and management of elevated blood cholesterol and body weight in adults. These four prevention guidelines were among five initially commissioned by NHLBI starting in 2008 and transitioned to the ACC and AHA in June 2013 as part of a collaborative arrangement to facilitate their completion and publication. A fifth guideline addressing hypertension will be initiated in early 2014. Each provides important updated guidance for primary care providers, nurses, pharmacists and specialty medicine providers on how best to manage care of individuals at risk for cardiovascular-related diseases based on the latest scientific evidence. Full coverage is available on Guideline information for patients is available on

New ACC/AHA/CDC Science Advisory on an Effective Approach to High BP Control
The ACC, American Heart Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 15 published a new science advisory on effective approaches to high blood pressure control. The authors note that programs that use a team-based approach to care and multiple resources, including an evidence-based hypertension treatment algorithm, are needed to effectively control high blood pressure. Specifically, the advisory encourages use of enhanced, evidence-based, blood pressure treatment systems for providers, including standardization of protocols and algorithms, incentives for improved performance based on achieving and maintaining patients at blood pressure goals, and technology-facilitated clinical decision support and feedback. Read more on

ACC/AHA Release Updated Methodology for Development of Clinical Data Standards
The ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA) have released an updated methodology for developing clinical data standards. The report, developed by the ACC/AHA Task Force on Clinical Data Standards, updates the original methods paper published in 2007 to reflect changes in relationships with industry policies and to emphasize the need for integration of data standards across many organizations and disciplines. The new report is intended to provide the framework necessary to develop clinical data standards that can be applied by various entities to enhance data collection and facilitate seamless data exchange. The report also positions the Task Force as the “clearinghouse” for cardiovascular data standards. Read more on

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ACC Taking Advocacy Action: What’s New?

ACC Takes Action to Protect Patient Access
The ACC and 90 other medical groups in early November sent a joint letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator pushing for additional transparency from UnitedHealthcare (UHC) and warning that narrowing networks may lead to decreased patient access and disruptions in continuity of care. The ACC has raised similar questions and concerns with several members of Congress. The ACC encourages affected members to appeal the terminations as outlined in the letter from UHC and to proactively speak with patients before the Medicare Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7, 2013. This sample patient letter provides an overview of patient resources for choosing Medicare products and specifies Medicare Open Enrollment dates.

SGR Comments
The ACC in November submitted comments to the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees on their latest framework for repealing the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and transitioning to new payment models that reward high quality, patient-centered care. In the letter, the College recommended that Congress consider future positive baseline updates to recognize changes in practice expenses and inflation, instead of a ten year freeze on provider updates that would create financial pressure on practices. Regarding the inclusion of language to adopt national medical specialty society- developed appropriate use criteria, the ACC recommended that CMS be required to study patterns of appropriateness and then identify if there is a consistent outlier basis. ACC also recommended that echocardiography be excluded from this provision. Read ACC's full comments.

GME Funding
The ACC signed on to a coalition letter, initiated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, urging Congress to protect Medicare beneficiary access to health care services by preserving existing Medicare financing for Graduate Medical Education (GME). This action was taken in anticipation of a House/Senate budget conference committee meeting that will address sequestration cuts, budget negotiations and the debt ceiling. "Medicare GME cuts that jeopardize physician training and limit critical services are a step in the wrong direction," the letter underscores. "Reducing our national deficit is important, but threatening access to care for millions of current and future patients is not the answer." Read more about the GME funding crisis in the latest Journal of the American College of Cardiology President's Page.

Sunshone Act Provision
The ACC and numerous other physician organizations recently raised concerns about the impact of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act on peer reviewed medical journals and textbooks in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The law states that "[e]ducational materials that directly benefit patients or are intended for patient use" do not need to be reported; however, CMS decided that medical textbooks, reprints of peer reviewed scientific clinical journal articles and abstracts of these articles are not directly patient-related and therefore must be reported. The organizations have asked CMS to reverse the policy.

Ordering and Referring Changes Approaching
After numerous delays, CMS will implement edits to prevent payment for services ordered or referred by providers not enrolled in the Medicare program starting Jan. 6, 2014. Enrollment does not require that providers be participating in the Medicare program, merely that their information is contained within CMS' provider database. Be sure to check your Medicare provider enrollment information to ensure it is current and accurate. Additional information, including a sample letter to send to your referral sources, is available here.

Data Driving Quality: Can Registries Aide Clinical Trials?
Participant enrollment is essential to the success or failure of a clinical trial. Without adequate enrollment, a trial may be too small to derive conclusive data. From a diversity perspective, the lack of diverse patient pools limit abilities to identify differences in gender, ethnicity, environmental, or socioeconomic factors contributing to disease, as well as responses to treatment. In an effort to help address the need for strong clinical trial participation, reduce the burden for both practices and patients, and potentially drive down costs associated with recruitment, the ACC has developed the PINNACLE Registry® Research Alliance. The PINNACLE Registry currently captures 25,000 detailed physician-patient encounters each day. The Alliance provides opportunities to leverage these clinical encounters to help facilitate patient identification, screening and recruitment. Patients identified through PINNACLE can then be shared with their personal physician to facilitate a constructive shared-decision-making encounter around possible trial participation. PINNACLE Registry practices are encouraged to join the Alliance to take advantage of opportunities to participate in a variety of research opportunities and clinical trials. Learn more at

ICD-10: What You Need to Know
On Oct. 1, 2014, the ICD-10 system will replace the current ICD-9 codes. ICD-10 implementation will change the way coding is currently done, with the code-set growing from its current 14,315 diagnosis codes to more than 69,099 codes. These changes will require a significant effort to implement the new system and now is the time to start preparations in your practice. Information and resources to help you prepare are now available on Research ICD-10 codes and guidelines, review a webinar, watch videos and more.

Help ACC Complete RUC Surveys
Surveys have been randomly distributed related to several echocardiography add-on services. If you are randomly selected and receive a survey, please take 15-20 minutes to thoughtfully complete it. Annual updates to the physician work relative values are based on recommendations from a committee involving the American Medical Association (AMA) and national medical specialty societies, called the RUC. The RUC is an expert panel of the AMA and specialty societies charged with developing relative value recommendations to Medicare. A key part of the RUC process is the completion of relative value surveys. Data from these surveys are used to establish the physician work that determines Medicare payment. Please contact James Vavricek at 202-375-6421 or if you have questions.

Recent FDA Updates
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a drug safety communication warning of increased risk for spinal hematomas and paralysis when performing spinal procedures on patients taking low molecular weight heparins. The FDA also issued a Class I Recall for the EMBOL-X Glide Protection System, manufactured by Edwards Lifesciences LLC, due to a "deformed cannula tip." Finally, a Class 1 recall was issued for the TorFlex Transseptal Guiding Sheath Kit. According to the FDA, "[t]he sheath could remove particulate of less than 5 mm from the dilator. The particulate could potentially migrate into a patient's bloodstream." Get details on these FDA updates on

Promoting Patient Outcomes Through Provider/Hospital Alignment
In a recent ACC webinar, experts provided an overview of the current state of provider/hospital organizational structures, such as cardiovascular service line agreements and how to best implement them in the practice setting. The presentation helped participants understand the key elements involved in executing an agreement that provides the opportunity to design a model that will promote exceptional patient outcomes while understanding the financial and quality parameters. Review key takeaways from the session.

Health Insurance Marketplaces Launched
Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplaces will run through March 31, 2014, with coverage kicking in on Jan. 1, 2014. Physician offices and their staff should be prepared to respond to general marketplace inquiries by patients. It will be important for providers to confirm patient eligibility for coverage before the date of service. It is also important that providers take an active interest in their contracts, discuss market competitive rates with payers and understand the fine print. Providers should work with payers to fully understand the network criteria within exchanges. Navigate the new marketplaces with this guide. Watch an archived webinar on the topic here.

Claims Experience Video Series
Find out what it takes to prevail in a medical malpractice claim with a new claims experience video series from The Doctor’s Company – the nation's largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. Get the physician perspective on the litigation process—see how one physician coped with a claim and prevailed. This video was produced and provided by The Doctors Company—for similar videos please visit The Doctors Company YouTube channel. Also, learn more about special Doctors Company benefits for ACC members, here.

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Webinars, Events, Deadlines and More: Mark Your Calendar

Renew Your ACC Membership by Dec. 10
Renew your commitment to quality cardiovascular care by renewing your ACC membership today. ACC membership renewals are due by Dec. 10, and members who renew by Nov. 30 have a chance to win their choice of free educational self-assessment modules! Member benefits include a subscription to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, access to, preferred member rates for ACC.14 and live program registration, and more. Visit or call the ACC Resource Center at 202-375-6000, ext. 5603 to renew. Don’t forget to opt-in to join one of the many special interest member sections on your dues statement! Learn more about ACC’s member sections here.

Registration Open for ACC.14 in Washington, DC
Registration for ACC.14 on March 29 – 31, 2014 in the nation’s capital opens on is now open! Learn more here.

CV Summit Heads to Vegas in January
The Cardiovascular Summit: Solutions for Thriving in a Time of Change course will be held Jan. 16 – 18, 2014 at the Aria Casino and Resort Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Staff and member volunteers are in the process of developing content for the meeting. Registration and lodging information will be available on in the coming weeks. Contact Jackie Massey with questions.

Upcoming Webinars on CPT Codes and PQRS
The ACC will host two webinars this December to help members prepare for 2014. The first will explore important cardiovascular coding changes for next year. Experts will present the new CPT codes and changes in the guidelines, as well as the new Category III codes for new technology. Hold your spot for the Dec. 4 webinar. The second webinar, scheduled for Dec. 10, will explain how to participate in the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System and how that participation will influence adjustments in payment for quality in the future. Register now.

CardioSmart and Mended Hearts Partner to Provide Community With AFib Related Educational Programs
CardioSmart and Mended Hearts are partnering with 10 hospitals across the country to do a series of 10 free live educational programs for patients living with atrial fibrillation (AFib) and their caregivers. This unique and highly successful “Living with AFib” lunch and learn program allows AFib patients and their friends and family to hear from ACC physicians and other AFib patients about signs and symptoms, treatment options and how to communicate effectively with the entire cardiac care team in an informal, relaxed setting. Participants can ask questions after the presentation and come away with not only increased awareness of AFib, but resources they can use moving forward, including more information about the AFib condition center on

New on the ACC in Touch Blog
Check out the newly revamped ACC in TouchBlog at 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.

News Archive on has made it easier to find news stories and videos under the “News Archive” page. The updated page now contains RRS feed of ACC’s latest news, ACC video highlights, and the latest content from CardioSource World News and CardioSource World News Interventions.

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 incardiovascular 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 mediachannels 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-centeredcardiovascular news available through Facebook, Twitter @CardioSmart, and YouTube. For more information about ACC’s social media channels, visit

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