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The UCA leadership and members of the Health and Public Policy Committee are working to educate Congress and other key healthcare policymakers and stakeholders on the urgent care industry by designing and implementing an advocacy agenda to increase awareness about the role of urgent care centers in rapidly evolving healthcare systems.

Washington Update - 2018 Initiatives

 

NERUCA and UCA Team Up for a Major Victory for Urgent Care in Massachusetts! (but ongoing vigilance and activism required) (August 1, 2018): Massachusetts was looking for ways to support struggling community health services and with little warning urgent care centers and retail clinics were in the crosshairs. The Massachusetts House had proposed an 8.75% tax on commercially billed charges (versus receivables). H.4639 would have been devastating to an urgent care industry that, according to the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, had reduced ED traffic by 30%. The Senate language was far more reasonable and did not impose a tax. We are pleased to report that on July 31, the Massachusetts Legislature adjourned for the year without reaching consensus, ensuring that no bill would be forwarded to the Governor. In late June, the North East Urgent Care Association (NERUCA), a UCA Chapter, and the Urgent Care Association (UCA) moved into action to defeat the tax and other provisions that would have upended the urgent care industry in Massachusetts and would have set a troubling national precedent. Read the full story here

Massachusetts Lobby Day Update on Devastating Urgent Care Legislation (July 23, 2018): On July 17, NERUCA President and UCA Health and Public Policy (H&PP) Committee member John Kulin, DO and NERUCA Government Affairs Chair and UCA H&PP member Jonathan Halpert, MD, FACEP led a team of urgent care representatives at the Massachusetts State House where they lobbied against  House Bill H4639. This bill would levy an 8.75 percent tax on urgent care charges billed to commercial payers, as well as impose highly restrictive licensing requirements and an ill-suited definition of urgent care.  If enacted, these provisions would deal a devastating blow to the Massachusetts urgent care industry and set a troubling precedent for the urgent care industry nationally. The team included Shaun Ginter, MBA (Carewell UC), Lynne Rosen (PhysicianOne UC), James Jarrett (CareWell UC), Brian Cruz, MD (PhysicianOne UC), and Max Puyanic (ConvenientMD). The group was supported by UCA CEO Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, James Brennan (AFC UC), Camille Bonta, MHS (Summit Health Care Consulting, UCA), and Anthony Abdelahad Esq. (Ventry Associates, AFC UC). Read more about their advocacy here. The Boston Globe featured NERUCA and UCA Board of Directors member Shaun Ginter, please read that article here. A conference committee of six Massachusetts state senators and representatives is trying to negotiate a final bill to send to Governor Charlie Baker with less than a week remaining in the legislative session.

Massachusetts Lobby Day to Fight Proposed Legislation Impacting Urgent Care Centers (July 19, 2018): On July 17, UCA and its chapter, the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association, NERUCA, collaborated in an effort to defeat House bill H.4639, described as “An Act to Enhance Access to High Quality, Affordable and Transparent Healthcare”. A number of organizations stepped up to represent Massachusetts urgent care, including CareWell Urgent Care, Physician One, Doctors Express-Braintree, Doctors Express-Springfield, and Convenient MD. NERUCA representatives including Jonathan Halpert, MD, FACEP, Government Affairs, and John Kulin, D.O., Board President, were also in attendance. The representatives, had multiple meetings with the lawmakers to voice their concern on the urgent care-related provisions in H.4639; specifically on an 8.75% tax on charges and licensing of urgent care centers. NERUCA and UCA partnered to author a letter to the conferee members, emphasizing our collective opposition to proposed legislation which we believe will increase costs, limit access to care. Passage of the bill would devastate the urgent care industry in Massachusetts and would set a worrisome precedent that could take hold nationally.

Massachusetts Urgent Care - Act Now! (July 4, 2018): Legislation is currently pending in the Massachusetts state legislature that would impose new cost and regulatory burdens on urgent care centers and threaten patient access.  The Act to Enhance Access to High Quality, Affordable and Transparent Healthcare (H.4639 — originally introduced as H.4617) would negatively affect Massachusetts urgent care centers. It is the opinion of the Urgent Care Association and its chapter, the North East Regional Urgent Care Association (NERUCA), that this legislation, if enacted, would be detrimental not only to the bottom line of urgent care centers but to timely patient access to acute care. Opposition to these changes are supported by the findings published in a 2015 report issued by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission.  That report found that a high share of emergency department visits in the state stem from limited access to care after normal operating hours of the physician’s office. The report also found that the presence of a retail or urgent care clinic in its communities reduced use of emergency departments by 30 percent. NERUCA and UCA are collaborating with other parties to address this legislation that has a alarmingly narrow definition of urgent care, established urgent care centers as ‘facilities’ with a host or associated reporting responsibilities, and imposes an 8.75% assessment/ tax on non-ACO affiliated urgent care and retail clinic revenue.  As members of UCA, the Association wishes to notify all members so that everyone is aware of this proposed legislation in Massachusetts with hopes that this unprecedented legislation will be stopped and not be picked up in other states.  Massachusetts urgent care stakeholders, please: Contact your lawmakers and make your voice heard in opposition to H.4639. Additionally, if you have any questions or want more information, do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Halpert, MD at jhalpert@neruca.org.

FMCSA National Registry Regains Additional Functionality; Certification Backlog Continues (June 14, 2018): The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently restored the ability to search for a certified medical examiners by name, business name, city and state, and zip code, as well as the functionality that allows health care providers to become certified to conduct physical qualification examinations.  Individuals interested in becoming a certified medical examiner must first complete the required training.  Please read more about completing the required training here.

UCA Advocating on the Hill: VA Bill Signed into Law Ensuring Access to Walk-in Care (June 7, 2018)On June 6, President Trump signed into law a bill that authorizes and expands veteransaccess to private health care, including walk-in carefor non-emergent care access the Urgent Care Association (UCA) has been urging lawmakers to provide. Specifically, the MISSION ACT, requires under Section 105 that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) develop procedures to ensure veterans are able to access walk-in care from qualifying non-Department entities or providers.  To provide care to qualifying veterans, an entity or provider would be be required to enter into a contract with the VA.

Higgins Advocates for Urgent Care (May 6, 2018): On May 8, the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the VA Mission Act of 2018. Among the items in the bill is continued funding for the VA Choice Program. Without action by Congress, the VA Choice Program will run out of money this summer — as early as mid-June. Here is the letter that Clay Higgins wrote as a member of Congress to express his concern. Send your thoughts, ideas and experiences to Nirja Shah at nshah@ucaoa.org.

UCA Submits Comments to Colorado Department of Regulations Agencies (May 4, 2018): UCA submitted comments to the the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies on proposed network adequacy standards that would take effect on July 1, 2018. In it's letter, UCA offered a revised definition of urgent care facilities to better distinguish between retail clinics, free-standing emergency departments and urgent care centers. Please read more of the letter here.

UCA Supports Missouri Bone Marrow Registry Bill (April 12, 2018): In a letter to members of the Missouri General Assembly, the Urgent Care Association (UCA) and the Health & Public Policy Committee offered support of pending legislation that would encourage, but not require, primary care providers and urgent care physicians to inquire of new patients whether they are registered with the bone marrow registry. If a patient is not registered, the health care provider would provide information about the bone marrow registry. In its letter of support, UCA emphasized the importance of giving health care providers flexibility to voluntarily support initiatives to increase the number of potential bone marrow donors. The legislation has passed the Missouri House and is now pending in the Senate. Please read more of the letter here.

UCA comments on FDA's Draft Guidance for CLIA (March 26, 2018): The FDA recently released their draft, “Select Updates for Recommendations for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) Waiver Applications for Manufacturers of In Vitro Diagnostic Devices.” UCA has joined with other organizations and commented on the draft to state that the FDA needs to remove its proposed discussion of accuracy and focus on the relevant question for the guidance – whether trained and untrained users will get comparable results when using the same to-be-waived test. Congress has said that if a diagnostic test allows trained and untrained users to get comparable results, and the test is simple, it is entitled to a waiver. FDA’s guidance needs to reflect Congress’s intent, and recognize – as Congress has – the value of expanded access to new and innovative CLIA-waived tests. You can view the full submission here.

Testimony of the UCA on the Definition of Urgent Care (March 7, 2018): In response to proposed language in CT S.B. 303, the Urgent Care Association (UCA) collaborated with its members in the state of CT and its Chapter, the Northeast Regional Urgent Care Association (NERUCA), by submitting testimony to the Connecticut Public Health Committee on the definition of an urgent care center.  This was a joint effort to eliminate public confusion and more clearly define the scope of services in a UCC.


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