AGA Submits Comments to Federal Agencies

January 17, 2013

A number of federal agencies have recently released draft recommendations and proposals that will directly affect the GI community. AGA has been busy analyzing the recommendations and responding to the appropriate agencies in our continuing effort to fight for the future of GI.

AGA Comments on Screening High Risk Adults for HCV
AGA submitted comments regarding the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation statement addressing “Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults,” which includes the following recommendations: 

  • The USPSTF recommends screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in adults at high risk, including those with any history of intravenous drug use or blood transfusions prior to 1992 (Grade B).
  • The USPSTF recommends that clinicians consider offering screening for HCV infection in adults born between 1945 and 1965 (Grade C).

AGA submitted a letter to the USPSTF supporting the grade B recommendation to screen all U.S. adults at high risk for HCV and disagreeing with the second USPSTF recommendation that clinicians “consider” screening adults born between 1945 and 1965 (grade C) “only if other considerations support offering or providing the service in an individual patient.” AGA urges USPSTF to reconsider the grade C recommendation statement. We believe that the failure to support CDC recommendations for age-based screening for hepatitis C may result in substantial harm through missed or delayed diagnosis in a population that represents three quarters of all infected individuals in the U.S., of whom only one in five are aware of their diagnosis.  

AGA Comments on HHS Proposal Related to Essential Health Benefits
AGA submitted comments regarding HHS’ proposed exchange and issuer standards related to coverage of essential health benefits and actuarial value. We remain concerned with the barrier that cost-sharing may be having on patients’ access to colorectal cancer screenings, especially screening colonoscopy and the problem that patients face when the screening colonoscopy becomes therapeutic. In the letter to HHS, AGA urged the agency to provide guidance to private plans to ensure that patients receive coverage of colorectal cancer screening without cost-sharing, regardless of the outcome of the procedure. Additionally, we encouraged HHS to recognize the critical nature of medical foods and include total parenteral nutrition for millions of Americans by requiring that it be included as an essential health benefit in all states. 

Read the Top 10 Things GIs Should Know About Health-Care Exchanges.

AGA Submits Comments on Proposed Cuts to Surgical Pathology Codes & FMT
AGA, in coordination with ASGE, submitted comments on the CMS 2013 physician fee schedule final rule. We offered comments on the significant reimbursement cuts to surgical pathology codes and the proposed relative value units associated with a new health-care common procedure coding system G-code to report fecal microbiota transplantation.

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