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April 20, 2007


April 20, 2007


Global TB Control Legislation Introduced in the Senate

Legislation to expand global TB control efforts and prevent the spread of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB is gaining momentum in Congress. The bill, the Stop TB Now Act, S. 968/H.R. 1567, was recently reintroduced in the Senate by Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Smith (R-OR) and Brown (D-OH). The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Engel (D-NY), Wilson (R-NM) and Smith (D-WA), has already gained 7 new cosponsors (supporters) this month, putting the total number of cosponsors at 14.

Domestic TB control legislation, the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, H.R. 1532, sponsored by Reps. Green (D-TX), Wilson (R-NM) and Baldwin (D-WI), is also gaining support in the House, where it is up to 10 cosponsors. A Senate companion to the House bill is expected to be introduced soon.

ATS members are asked to contact their House Representatives and Senators to request their cosponsorship of the Stop TB Now Act, S. 968/H.R. 1567 and the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, H.R. 1532. Click on the following link for the ATS website to contact your Representative to request their cosponsorship of the bills at: http://www.thoracic.org/sections/about-ats/advocacy/take-action-now.html


Pediatric Medical Devices Legislation Advances in the Senate

Legislation to speed the development of medical devices designed for children, such as respiratory assistive devices, advanced in the Senate this week as part of a larger Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bill. The Pediatric Medical Device Safety and Improvement Act, S. 830 and H.R. 1494, sponsored by Sen. Dodd (D-CT) in the Senate and Rep. Markey (D-MA) in the House, is now on a fast-track to passage as a result of being attached to the FDA legislation. The bill offers incentives to manufacturers of medical devices for children, grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to require post-market studies of devices to ensure their safety and efficacy, and enhances and coordinates research efforts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the FDA.

The ATS joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics in sending a letter to Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Sens. Dodd (D-CT) and Clinton (D-NY), thanking them for moving the pediatric medical device bill and legislation sponsored by Sen. Clinton on pediatric clinical drug trials. The ATS Washington Office will alert members when their action is needed to support the Pediatric Medical Device Safety and Improvement Act, S. 830 and H.R. 1494, as it moves towards passage in the Senate and action in the House.


ATS Join Letter to CMS on SGR Calculation

The ATS joined over 80 physician organizations in a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, Leslie Norwalk, urging the agency to take immediate steps to avoid the projected 10% in Medicare payment to physicians projected for 2008. The letter, organized by the American Medical Association, lays out a number of steps CMS could take to reduce the size of the projected 10% that will take effect January 1, 2008.

As you may recall, the formula used to calculate the annual update to Medicare payments to physicians – called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) - uses a number of flaw and inaccurate assumptions that result in projected negative payment updates for Medicare providers.

For the past two years, Congress has intervened directly to avert the cuts projected by the SGR and set by legislation the annual update. Unless Congress acts again, physicians are projected to see a 10% in Medicare payments in 2008 and a 40% cut over the next 8 years.

While Congress must act to avert these projected cuts, the sign on letter reminds CMS that there are a number of administrative steps CMS can take to reduce the severity of problem, including; applying the entire $1.35 billion Physician Assistance and Quality Initiative Fund provided by Congress in 2006 toward fixing the 2008 update, apply a reasonable physician productivity factor of 0.65% as is being used for other Medicare providers, remove the cost of Medicare Part B covered drugs from the SGR calculations and use reasonable estimates for the impact of National Coverage Decisions on driving the increases in Medicare physician spending. Addressing each of this factors will significant reduce the size of the projected cuts.

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator