Welcome to our first Bulletin edition of 2021. While 2020 was certainly memorable and unique, we can all agree that we’d like for 2021 to be a little less dramatic.
In this month’s column, we will visit two issues. The first is the evaluation and management (E/M) revaluation. At the time of this writing, any legislative progress made during the lame duck session of Congress remains speculative. Government relations (GR) is one of the core competencies of the ACR. Our radiology community looks to the ACR for its advocacy leadership. Cynthia Moran, ACR executive vice president of government relations and health policy, deserves special recognition. We cannot thank her enough for her years of effort and expertise in establishing our GR team as one of the most respected medical professional advocacy groups in Washington. Our GR success is one reason our members have volunteered their time and invested in dues to make the ACR strong.
We have been dedicating every available resource to the E/M issue because of its wide-reaching and important impact on our practices and access to medical imaging for our patients. Remarkably, our GR team has been able to organize a coalition of more than 70 healthcare provider organizations to lobby for change in E/M revaluation implementation (learn more at acr.org/EM). This achievement cannot be overstated. It is unique in medicine to mobilize anywhere near this size of a coalition to act together for a common cause.
The ACR has also made a significant advocacy impact in Washington. Most notably, the College led an effort in the House of Representatives to gather 229 bipartisan
signatures on a letter urging House leadership to stop the impending E/M-based cuts. Encouraged by the letter’s tremendous support, the authors (Reps. Ami Bera, MD, D-Calif., and Larry Bucshon, MD, R-Ind.) introduced the legislation H.R. 8702, the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, to stop the E/M policy-related cuts — while maintaining its planned increases. Whatever the outcome might be of these congressional initiatives, ACR’s efforts will continue in earnest throughout the 2021 year.
The second issue we will visit is certification in radiology. The report from the ACR Task Force on Certification in Radiology was released on Nov. 18 at acr.org/Certification-Report. The Task Force was established in January 2019 in response to grassroots concerns about board certification and maintenance of certification. The ACR has a long-standing collaborative relationship with the ABR. Our priority is, and will always be, representing our membership.
The goals developed by the Task Force were to conduct environmental surveillance of options for certification, not only in medicine but in other professions; to gather data on what our members experience and expect from certification; and to develop recommendations going forward. Important concerns specific to the ABR, both real and perceived, were investigated. This effort was concurrent with the establishment of the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The Task Force invested a tremendous number of volunteer and staff hours toward investigating, discovering, and developing recommendations. Thank you to both Eric B. Friedberg, MD, FACR. and Madelene C. Lewis, MD, for helping to spearhead this effort as chairs.
We all recognize that professional self-regulation through certification is critical to distinguishing ourselves as professionals. Rigorous criteria are demanded by the public and underscore our differentiation as medical imagers from other non-physician providers. As our practices migrate from peer review to peer learning, having our certification processes as part of, if not embedded in, the transition is a significant promise. The proposition of creating new expectations for our specialty through certification, such as data science fundamentals, could serve to advance our community together. Ambitiously, this could be launched not only on a domestic scale but on an international one as well.
On behalf of the College, we wish you and yours a healthy, successful, and safe New Year. We hope you enjoy your first 2021 issue of the Bulletin.