The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan deal today which avoids a Medicare fee cut for physicians while also extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for the rest of the year. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 60-36 and the House approved the measure by a 293-132 margin. President Barack Obama has promised to sign the legislation.

The final agreement allows Medicare to maintain current physician reimbursement rates through December, delaying a 27.4% reduction in fees set to begin on March 1. To fund the $18 billion doc fix, the agreement includes several health-related offsets:

  • $5 billion from the prevention and public health fund created by the federal health reform law;
  • $4.1 billion in Medicaid payments to hospitals with a disproportionate number of uninsured patients;
  • Cut payment rates for clinical laboratory services by 2% in 2013;
  • $6.9 billion in “bad debt” payments to hospitals when Medicare beneficiaries do not pay for services; and
  • $2.5 billion in Medicaid funding to Louisiana, which received increased funding from the overhaul.

Representing sleep in Washington, D.C.

The AASM has been working to increase awareness of sleep medicine and sleep-related issues among federal lawmakers. These issues include, the new Innovation Delivery and Management Program for Patients with OSA, reimbursement for sleep medicine physicians and funding for sleep research.

As you may know, AASM staff members recently traveled to Washington D.C. and met with legislative aides for Senators who represent AASM Board members or serve on health care committees. Staff also met with leaders of several influential labor unions and federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and attended hearings on regulations for commercial drivers with sleep apnea. As a result of these meetings, these agencies and unions have demonstrated an interest in partnerships with the AASM on educational initiatives related to sleep disorders, fatigue and wellness. We have also begun working closely with lawmakers to develop legislation that would require screening for sleep apnea as part of the Welcome to Medicine examination.

You can support AASM action in Washington, D.C. and fight for your profession by donating to the AASM Political Action Committee (AASM PAC).

Now that we have our foot in the door in Washington, it is imperative to continue the momentum we’ve built. You can help support sleep medicine-related issues and battle to protect against Medicare physician payment reductions by contributing to the AASMPAC.

The AASMPAC is a bi-partisan political action committee which assists in supporting sleep medicine-friendly legislators in their Congressional elections. This support opens doors for expressing our viewpoints and the need for and value of sleep care services for our individual patients, sleep care research and the sleep-related public health implications.

By contributing to the AASM PAC, you will shape the outlook of sleep medicine. Contribute online via the new AASMPAC webpage or mail your donation to:

Attn: Ted Thurn
2510 North Frontage Road
Darien, IL 60561-9728

An investment in the AASMPAC is an investment in your profession and livelihood.