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QandAThe Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) is hard at work lobbying for the interests of ASCs nationwide and coordinating events designed to help raise awareness of the tremendous value surgery centers deliver to their communities.

We spoke with ASCA representatives about recent efforts on the legislative front and upcoming opportunities for ASCs to player a greater role in pushing for local, state, and federal support.

Q: ASCA staff recently spoke with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology about regulatory barriers surrounding electronic health records (EHR) technology in ASCs. What were the key takeaways from this meeting?

Alex Taira, Policy Analyst: ASCA staff have met multiple times with staff/leadership at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in recent months. At these meetings, ASCA staff have asserted the importance of growing the EHR space in ASCs and asked regulators to collaborate on solutions that might stimulate overall development and allow ASCs and ASC-based clinicians to participate more widely in new, value-based payment models.

ONC staff have recognized ASCs as an important specialty care setting and have committed a staff team to further work on ASC-specific technical EHR specifications.

Q: In June, President Donald Trump signed the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018 to reform the US Department of Veterans Affairs health care system. In what ways will this law likely impact ASCs?

Jeff Evans, Assistant Director of Government Affairs, Legislative Affairs: The VA MISSION Act will coalesce all non-VA provider programs into one Veterans Community Care Program in 2019 and institute a new, more reliable claims reimbursement process. Specifically, community provider claims will be reimbursed in 30 days for electronic claims and 45 days for paper claims.

In addition to the new claims reimbursement process, the VA MISSION Act authorizes local provider agreements with the Veterans Health Administration that, according to the US Senate bill summary, will "remove bureaucratic red tape and meet veterans' need for care in the community."

Q: National ASC Month is August. What is this, and how can ASCs participate?

Danielle Kaster, Assistant Director, Grassroots & Political Affairs: National ASC Month celebrates the ASC community and the care ASCs provide to patients. ASCs across the country open their doors to educate consumers and lawmakers about the cost-effective, high-quality care the facilities provide. Any ASC community members that would like to participate should contact me at dkaster@ascassociation.org.

Q: The second National Advocacy Day of 2018 is September 5. For ASCs not familiar with National Advocacy Day, what do they need to know?

Danielle Kaster: ASCA's 2018 September National Advocacy Day brings ASC community members to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the industry. Participants meet with their federal lawmakers to educate them about ASCs and discuss the issues that are affecting ASCs' ability to provide care to patients. ASCA staff will provide an informational briefing the evening before the congressional meetings to ensure participants are prepared to meet with their members of Congress.

For more information, please contact me at dkaster@ascassociation.org.