In the past year, we have seen a number of changes in the world of rheumatology practice management, and with a new administration in the White House and healthcare policy reform remaining a top priority among lawmakers, there is no doubt that more changes are on the horizon. A significant triumph at the end of 2016 was the repeal of the controversial Medicare Part B Demonstration Project, which was originally introduced as a way to cut Medicare Part B drug costs. This project was a 5-year pilot program that would have impacted rheumatology practices across the nation by reducing Part B drug reimbursement. One of the main concerns among medical organizations and patient advocacy groups was that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had overstepped its authority and failed to engage stakeholders in a decision that could affect millions of patients and clinicians.
Fortunately, the medical community quickly recognized the deficiencies of the proposal and its negative consequences regarding access to care for the Medicare population. A strong advocacy effort across numerous specialties ensued and we witnessed the formal withdrawal of the Part B Demonstration Project on December 15, 2016.
The National Organization of Rheumatology Managers (NORM) would like to acknowledge the efforts of organizations such as the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, the National Infusion Center Association, the Community Oncology Alliance, and the American College of Rheumatology for their unwavering resistance to the Medicare Part B Demonstration Project. Although it was a difficult battle, it was encouraging to see the power of advocacy in action.
An important challenge moving forward will be to stay vigilant regarding new legislative and regulatory proposals aimed at addressing the high costs of Part B medications, and to ensure that the voices of patients, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals continue to be heard.
In the coming year, NORM and Rheumatology Practice Management will strive to provide practice managers with the information and resources they need to deliver quality patient care.