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News & Press: Advocacy and Policy

WOCN Society Submits Comment Regarding Pressure Injury Measures

Friday, March 23, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Jenna Bertini
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The WOCN® Society In Action is a members-only public policy and advocacy newsletter that is published four times a year to highlight the most pressing issues related to WOC health care and the Society's advocacy efforts.
The Society Submits Comment to CMS Regarding Pressure Injury Measures
CMS recently requested comments on a pending quality measure dealing with pressure injury management in the acute care setting. The measure entitled "Hospital Harm - Hypoglycemia; Hospital Harm - Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injury" deals with developing an electronic clinical quality measure for hospitals to account for hospital-acquired pressure injury.

The Society has been hearing from members who are concerned with how providers and hospitals are being penalized by the outcomes of current quality measure on pressure injuries despite providing quality care. The current measures to not adequately capture and track pressure injuries are resulting in both reduced data collection and quality of care. The Society's comments in their entirety on these measures can be found here. In addition to the official written comments the Society submitted, the Society is planning an additional face-to-face meeting with CMS staff to express our concerns in hopes that we can work with regulators to develop more adequate measures to track pressure injuries.
Lymphedema Treatment Act
The Society, represented by Public Policy Advisor Chris Rorick, recently attended the Lymphedema Advocacy Group's 2018 Capitol Hill Awareness Day and Congressional awards ceremony on Capitol Hill. More than 70 national Lymphedema Advocacy Group leaders from around the country spent the day on Capitol Hill... culminating with an evening reception to present Congressional leadership awards to those Senate Congressional champions that have led the way in advancing lymphedema care and coverage legislation during this 115th Sessional of Congress.

Senators Cantwell (D-WA), Grassley (R-IA) and Schumer (D-NY) were all recognized for their legislative contributions to advance the "Lymphedema Treatment Act"... which is currently the most cosponsored piece of health care legislation in both the US Senate and House of Representatives.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act (H.R. 930 / S. 497) would amend Medicare statute to pay for compression garments, bandages and supplies to reduce lymphedema-related swelling and prevent recurrence. The bill has added 321 cosponsors in the House and 53 cosponsors in the Senate. With the overwhelming support from a majority of members of Congress, we are hopeful that the legislation will find a path to passage before the end of the calendar year.

As you well know, compression therapy is considered the gold standard for the treatment of lymphedema and the treatment and prevention of venous leg ulcers (VLUs), also known as stasis ulcers. The Society strongly supports the Lymphedema Treatment Act; this legislation reflects the vision and core tenets of the Society as a means to support cost-effective, evidence-based prevention and treatment of complex wound conditions such as VLUs and lymphedema.
Take Action
Medicare Competitive Bidding

As you may recall, President Obama released his proposed FY 17 budget in March 2016, a provision to expand Medicare's Competitive Bidding (CB) program to new product categories. The budget proposed that inhalation drugs; all prosthetic and orthotics; and ostomy, tracheostomy and urological supplies all be listed as products subjected to competitive bidding. The Society has expressed serious concerns with this proposal, as ostomy supplies and urological supplies are not well-suited for a competitively bid program because of their highly customizable nature. The Society has fought to exclude these products from the program in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

To date, the Trump Administration has not continued to pursue the expansion of the CB program. However, the Medicare Payment and Advisory Committee (MEDPAC), which serves as an advisory body to Congress on Medicare policy, discussed the issue of CB during its November meeting. During the discussions the panel focused mainly on the cost savings that the CB program has shown over the years of implementation; there was very little focus on access or patient impact. It was suggested that the panel would support expanding the program into urological and ostomy supplies in the near future. While this would be a troubling development, keep in mind that the panel only serves in an advisory capacity and cannot change policy. It would take new legislation from Congress in order to include urologic and ostomy in the CB program.

In addition, the Society recognizes the issue of CB as marker of concern about access for consumers continues to work on our Access to Care and Access to Supplies Initiative, which is a long term project.
Take Action
CMMI and Long Term Care

The Society continues to explore avenues of opportunity to expand WOC nursing services in long term care through the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) program. A call with CMMI has outlined the expectations for new projects, including significance in impact across systems - both financial and in quality. Evaluation continues as we define the possibilities given the resources and applicability to our members.
Strength through Partnerships

Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders
In addition to the efforts taken on by the Society, we have also enjoyed success through our membership in the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders (The Alliance). The Alliance is a nonprofit multidisciplinary trade association of physician medical specialty societies and clinical associations whose mission is to promote quality care and access to products and services for people with wounds through effective advocacy and educational outreach in the regulatory, legislative and public arenas. Through the Alliance, the Society is able to comment and follow government regulations on multiple fronts and directly impact policy decisions. A complete review of the Alliance's activities and outcomes can be found here in their 2017 Annual Report.

The Nursing Community Coalition
Apart from the work the Society does with the Alliance, we are also active members of the Nursing Community Coalition. The Nursing Community Coalition consists of 58 national nursing organizations committed to improving the health and health care of our nation by collaborating to support Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). Collectively, the Nursing Community represents over one million RNs, APRNs, nurse researchers, nurse faculty and nursing students. For a look at the year in review for the Nursing Community, please click here.

United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA)
The Society continues to expand our partnerships with patient groups on areas of interest with regard to public policy and outreach. Some recent action includes work with UOAA on reduced access to patient supplies under current CMS home health billing polices that could result in limiting patient access to ostomy supplies. In addition, we are working with UOAA on patient and provider education initiatives to help ensure ostomy patients are getting quality care, despite not having access to a WOC nurse.
If you have questions regarding any of these issues, please contact:

Chris Rorick, MPH
Director of Government Relations
+1 202-508-6354
Kate Lawrence, MSN, RN, CWOCN
WOCN Public Policy Coordinator


Phillip J. Botham says...
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Great work this week with your presentation at conference!

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