Letter from ACG Governor Richard Sterling, MD, MSc, FACG

Date: 03/25/2014  |  Category: VGS News

Dr. Richard Sterling, Professor of Medicine and Chief, Section of Hepatology at the Medical College of Virginia, serves as the American College of Gastroenterology’s Governor for Virginia.   He filed his annual report in November, which is re-published below:

This past year, under the leadership of ACG’s previous President, Dr. Ronald Vender, the College revised our vision and mission statements in an effort to reinforce our commitment to our members, our patients and clinical GI.

  • Our vision is to be the pre-eminent professional organization that champions the evolving needs of clinicians in the delivery of high quality, evidence-based, and compassionate health care to gastroenterology patients.
  • Our mission is to advance world-class care for patients with gastrointestinal disorders through excellence, innovation and advocacy in the areas of :
    • Scientific investigation
    • Education
    • Prevention
    • Treatment

College membership remains extremely strong.  The American Journal of Gastroenterology continues to grow, led by Dr. Bill Chey and Dr. Paul Moayyedi.  I ask you to encourage your colleagues who are not ACG members to consider joining.

There is no doubt that moving forward, there will be major changes in our profession.  With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the traditional fee for service model will no longer be the norm.  Instead, clinicians will be reimbursed based on quality reporting and value rather than patient-volume.  ACG continues to focus on Quality in gastroenterology as any payment model will likely have some sort of quality reporting component as a condition to reimbursement.  Under the leadership of Dr. Sunanda Kane, the ACG Quality Council is studying the use of metrics and determinants of quality.  Dr. Harry Sarles, ACG’s President, is making Quality in our profession a top priority.  ACG also continues to advocate for changes to the current method of reimbursement in Medicare, notable the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.  Without another congressional intervention, gastroenterologists and other Medicare providers face 24% cut beginning January 2014.

In response to a CMS mandate in the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule, a number of endoscopic procedures were highlighted for review of physician work and practice expense. After the societies surveyed membership for review, the code families for esophagoscopy (43200-43232), esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) (43235-43259), esophageal dilation (43450-43458) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (43260-43273) have recently gone through this process.  ACG expects CMS to release updated physician work values and reimbursement figures from these families in the coming days.

There are also important changes in ABIM certification requirements beginning in 2014.  All ABIM Board Certified physicians, including those holding indefinite certifications, will need to engage in MOC activities.  Physicians will remain certified for the time remaining on their certifications (license required), and all ABIM Board Certified physicians holding at least one valid certification will be considered “Meeting MOC Requirements” at the program launch in 2014, regardless of enrollment status.  While the College has some reservations about these changes, we are committed to developing more resources to help the membership navigate this new process and meet the requirements of Board Certification. For more information, go to www.moc2014.abim.org.

As an enhancement to the ACG GI Circle, the College unveiled its new online resource – the ACG Hepatitis Circle, which permits users to access a panel of leading hepatitis experts led by co-chairs Dr. David E. Bernstein and Dr. Paul Kwo, as well as resources to help you care for your patients. GI Circle members have automatic access to the Hepatitis Circle. If you are not yet a member of the GI Circle, click the following link to generate an invitation to join these communities: https://acg-gi-circle.within3.com/public/resend_invitations

The College also has developed a Digital Guide exclusively for its members.  The “@ACG Digital Guide” is a great information resource for all members and is available in print, online and mobile versions (https://members.gi.org/guide/).

Please mark your calendar for the upcoming regional courses.

ACG Eastern Regional Postgraduate Course
June 6 – 8, 2014
Washington Marriott Marquis
Washington, DC

ACG/VGS/ODSGNA Regional Postgraduate Course
September 5- 7, 2014
The Lodge
Williamsburg, VA

Finally, ACG responded promptly and vigorously to misleading articles on Medicare billing for colonoscopies published recently in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today.  There can be no doubt that ACG is the champion for the GI clinician.  Further information can be found at http://gi.org/media/defendingcolonoscopy/.

I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming meetings

With Best Regards,

Richard K. Sterling, MD, MSc, FACG

ACG Governor for Virginia