Dear AAAAI members,
My name is Vicki Hart, RN, MPH, and I am President & Founder of Hart Health Strategies, the firm who will be working with the AAAAI on socioeconomic and coding and billing issues. The AAAAI has invited me to tell you more about who we are and how we will be advocating for the allergy/immunology specialty and its patients.
First, we recognize that it was a significant decision for the AAAAI to hire representation for socioeconomic and coding and billing issues. Hart Health Strategies will be a strong advocate and effectively represent the allergy/immunology specialty in Washington. Our bi-partisan consulting and lobbying firm has extensive experience in strategic planning for legislative, regulatory and quality initiatives; reimbursement and coding issues; coalition building; educating congressional and Administration officials on important health issues; advocating for health related federal funding; and conducting public policy research.
I would like to note that we have worked with other organizations that also have constituencies of practicing subspecialty physicians, such as the American College of Mohs Surgery, the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, among others. Some of our recent successes have included obtaining an individual code to achieve improved reimbursement for an implantable ophthalmic device, passing bipartisan legislation to establish a Medicare reimbursement demonstration, and securing passage of a Medicare/Medicaid amendment in the Senate Finance Committee’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) package.
To give you some background, I have counseled policy makers, business leaders and association executives for more than 20 years. My expertise includes knowledge of healthcare reform, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, quality, health information technology, and other health-related issues. I also have personal relationships with numerous Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. In fact, the entire Hart Health Strategies team has longstanding relationships with health committee staff and personal Member office staff of both parties.
In order to support the specialty’s legislative and regulatory goals and objectives, Hart Health Strategies will work to develop Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) support for improvement in Medicare/Medicaid coverage and reimbursement for allergy/immunology services. We will also concentrate on developing a consensus among relevant Congressional Committees, Members and staff that revision to federal law and/or regulation should be adopted to ensure beneficiaries’ access to allergy/immunology services and fair and equitable coverage and reimbursement for these services. Our legislative and regulatory expertise will create and strengthen opportunities for the specialty of allergy/immunology to build relationships and enhance visibility with Congress and multiple federal agencies, including CMS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others. We will advise AAAAI regarding likely changes in healthcare reform that affect cognitive specialties in general and more specifically allergy/immunology. We will also help identify potential healthcare niches unique to allergy/immunology and provide a strategy to enhance visibility.
Our scope of work will also include monitoring authorizing legislation for CMS and the Medicare program, Fiscal Year appropriations bills for HHS, and any proposed regulation of physicians’ services that would affect allergy/immunology patient care services. We will brief the AAAAI on these developments on a regular basis and as requested to assist the AAAAI in being a proactive partner with Congress and federal health agencies.
We recognize that representing the interests of small and individual practitioners of allergy/immunology, as well as those in larger practice settings, is also important. This includes an emphasis on working with the Regional, State and Local Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Societies (RSLAAIS) and supporting local and state responsiveness to pertinent issues. A major asset will be Hart Health Strategies’ experience in identifying emerging issues of importance or potential opportunities for practitioners, while being sensitive to the unique challenges of individual, small and group practices. Such opportunities may include nominating members to serve on identified committees or advisory groups to strengthen allergy/immunology’s voice in policy decisions, or commenting on federal rules and regulations.
The final area Hart Health Strategies will advise on is billing and coding. Our staff includes a certified coder and individuals with expertise in reimbursement policy who will all serve as great resources.
We appreciate the opportunity to work with the AAAAI, and look forward to listening to and interacting with members as we work to support and advance the specialty’s legislative and regulatory goals and objectives. There are many opportunities and prospects for success, and we are committed to demonstrating our successes to the AAAAI and its members.
AAAAI members can find more information on Hart Health Strategies at www.hhs.com.
Vicki Hart, RN, MPH