American Gastroenterological Association Releases 2009 Legislative Forecast

The American Gastroenterological Association has released its 2009 legislative forecast, which was written to help physicians "better navigate recent issues that have been addressed and prepare for coming changes and debates."

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released its 2009 legislative forecast, which was written to help physicians “better navigate recent issues that have been addressed and prepare for coming changes and debates.”

In the report, the AGA provides an explanation of each situation, a position statement, and whether or not they stand as advocates of the particular issue. Topics discussed include physician quality reporting, comparative effectiveness research, and the state of funding from the National Institutes of Health.

In discussing healthcare information technology (healthcare IT), the AGA states that they are concerned that “many physicians will not be able to take advantage of the enhanced payments to purchase healthcare IT because of the aggressive timelines for implementation, the fact that current systems lack certification and interoperability standards, and the privacy issues that need to be addressed.” However, they add that they strongly support “the development of an electronic healthcare information network that is reliable, interoperable, and secure, and protects patient privacy.” In addition, they have “identified the clinical and functional criteria necessary for electronic medical record systems for gastroenterology practices, and has published the EMR Field Guide for Gastroenterology based on those criteria to help GI practices navigate the selection and implementation of an EMR.”

In regard to screening tests for colorectal cancer, the AGA “firmly believes” that all Americans over age 50 should be screened. They also advocate for H.R. 1189, which would develop “a colorectal cancer screening program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” and is legislation that would:

“Establish a screening and treatment program at the CDC that would target individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 and those at high risk under 50;

Prioritize screening for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured patients;

Provide case management and referral to treatments for screened individuals; and

Ensure the full continuum of care for individuals screened, including appropriate follow-up, diagnostic, and therapeutic services.”

In addition to the discussion of specific issues, the legislative report also explains how the AGA intends to move forward with their goals, how their political action committee will help them achieve those goals, and includes a list of what the AGA see as the “top issues” in gastroenterology.