We are now only two weeks away from our January 14-16 CANS Annual Session. I know that many CANS members and their families are concerned about the recent emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant and the surge of new cases brought on by this new variant, the annual winter virus season and recent holiday gatherings. Please rest assured that your CANS leadership shares this concern. We have been following events very closely, and will continue to do so. We held a special 2022 CANS Annual Planning Committee meeting 12/28/21 to thouroughly discuss and debate these issues. Please refer to a special message from the CANS 2022 Annual Meeting Committee published later in this newsletter communicating the committee’s unanimous decision to proceed with our first in person CANS Board meeting in two years January 14, and our first CANS Annual Session in two years Janaury 14-16.
As we have been discussing monthly since our September CANS newsletter, our upcoming annual session January 14-16, 2022, will be a very special CANS Annual Session as we work our way towards the 50th Anniversary of the largest state neurosurgical society in the United States, and we have a very special program prepared. The theme of this Annual Session is the “Challenges of Corporate Employment”. In the September and October newsletters we focused on two sessions (Sessions 3 and 5) that will be unique and new topics of interest to all CANS members that, to my knowledge, have never been put together for any other neurosurgery professional meeting presentation. These sessions are Session 5 – Challenges of Corporate Employment, and Session 3 – The Future of Telemedicine in Neurosurgery. In this newsletter we will focus on our Washington legislator participation and the role of neurosurgery residents in training in our meeting.
At 3:45 Saturday afternoon, we will be joined by California Congressman Raul Ruiz. Congressman Ruiz is joining us to receive the CANS George Ablin Distinguished Public Service Award. He will also address CANS for 15 minutes on US Federal Healthcare issues and initiatives. This will be followed by an audience question and answer session, so between now and then, write down any healthcare-related questions that you would like our California Congressman to address and answer. Unfortunately, our guest California Senator Alex Padilla, has had to pull out from the meeting due to another conflicting, pressing, engagement, but he has offered to send a video address that we will review when we receive it, and might consider playing it at this afternoon session as well.
As many of you know, CANS is firmly dedicated to supporting our California neurosurgery residency training programs, contributiong the the socio-economic and healthcare policy trainign of our California residents, and engaging neurosurgery residents in the structure and leadership of our organization. Many of you may not be aware that each year we elect a neurosurgery resident from Northern CA and another from Southern CA to our CANS Board and they participate and contribute at all CANS Board mettings throughout the year. For the very fiirst time this year we will be providing them with a CANS Annual Meeting Plenary Session forum for presenting issues that the choose that they consider important to all California neurosurgery residents. These presentations will occur late Saturday afternoon after Congressman Ruiz’s session.
Dr. Jennifer Quon is a neurosurgery resident at Stanford and currently serves as our Northern CA Resident Liaison to the CANS Board of Directors. She will be addressing us on the “Transition to practice: resources for understanding the evolving practice landscape”. Dr. Arvin Wali is a neurosurgery resident at UCSD and currently serves as our Southern CA Resident Liaison to the CANS Board of Directors. He will be addressing us on “Optimizing Neurosurgical Residency Training – Inspiring the Surgical Leaders of Tomorrow”. We hope that this new CANS meeting session will become a permanent CANS meeting feature going forward, allowing our residents to have even greater influence in the direction and initiatives of CANS as we expand the Resident Board Liaison positions to four residents beginning July 1, 2022.
Two thirds of our half-day Sunday morning program will be dedicated to our California residency training programs and our California neurosurgery residents. Session 9 will feature one chosen resident from each of our eleven trainign programs presenting ten minute abstracts related to their socio-economic, clinical care, or basic science research projects. Cash awards will be given for the best socio-economic, best clinical, and best basic science abstracts presented. This will be followed by a Rapid Fire abstract program as Session 10 which will feature residents presenting 2minute abstracts outlining their research projects.
This Annual Session will also mark the beginning of a one-year run up to the 50th Anniversary of CANS as an organization in 2023, and as such we have a very special Saturday pm banquet planned with its own dinner program as outlined below:
- CANS Historical Vignette – Austin Colohan, MD
- Formal Presentation of New CANS Members – Joseph Chen, MD
- Byron Cone Pevehouse Distinguished Service Award
- CANS Lifetime Service Award
- Randy Smith, MD, In Memoriam – Moustapha Abousamra, MD
- Randre Grace – Mark Linskey, MD
- Avant-Premiere CANS 2022-23 – Javed Siddiqi, MD
As you can see, everyone will get a chance to meet, introduce yourself, and chat with each of our new members and their families in person, we will get a chance to honor two of our very well deserved members with CANS awards, we will be able to celebrate the life of one of our greatest members, Randy Smith with his family joining us, and Dr Javed Siddiqi will have an opportunity to lay out his vision for his presidential term 2022-2023 as the new CANS President and perhaps foreshadow some of his priority initiatives as well as his January 2023 Annual Session.
Please remember that Proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a pre-entry negative test result within 72 hours of registration, will be required for members, guests and vendors to attend our 2022 Annual Session. Proof of vaccination either in the form of a completed HHS/CDC Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card or a California Digital Covid-19 Vaccine Record (https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/), or a copy of the negative test result, will be needed at registration in order to obtain a colored sticker indicating your vaccination status which will be placed on your meeting badge and allow access to all venues. Masking and social distancing requirements will conform to those officially in effect for the San Diego County Department of Public Health at the time of the meeting. Currently for indoor events in SD County, masking is required through January 15, and social distancing is recommended, but not required.
There is still time to register for the CANS Annual Session January 14-16, 2022 in La Jolla, CA
REGISTRATION at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines hotel https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/santphh-hilton-la-jolla-torrey-pines/ . When you register, it would also be a terrific time to update your CANS membership dues so that they are current https://cans1.org/membership-renew/ This venue is only 16.3 miles from the San Diego airport and is easily accessed. It is adjacent to the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve with beautiful hiking trails and views https://torreypine.org/ and is 5 minutes from Torrey Pines State Beach https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=658 . It is only 7 miles from Sea World and is close to La Jolla village and Birch Aquarium. The hotel overlooks the famous Torrey Pines golf course, and all rooms have Pacific Ocean views. The hotel itself has hosted multiple US Open Championships including the 2021 US Open. It provides exclusive access to daily tee times but also has its own spectacular outdoor pool and pool area as well as tennis courts. This venue promises to be a terrific outing for our members as well as our families. Please be sure to book your rooms in the CANS room block as soon as possible to enjoy the whole 3-day holiday weekend BOOK HERE. The more people who sign up and book rooms for both evenings as soon as possible, the better the deal that CANS will enjoy on our venue contract. We really would like to see everyone at the meeting. The support of each of our members is really important and certainly needed at this time.
In December 2020 congress passed the Surprise Billing Act as part of the year end omnibus spending bill. The law allows an out-of-network provider to invoke arbitration if they are dissatisfied with the amount offered by a third-party payer for their services. The arbiter would then select between the final offer submitted by each party (based on arbitrated fairness, not on which was the lowest). On September 30, 2021, the Biden Administration via the departments of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Health and Human Services (HHS), issued an interim final rule that essentially changes and violates the original law. Instead of the arbiter choosing one or the other of the best final offers of the two parties concerned, the rule requires the arbiter to choose not the arbitrator-determined fairer of proposals, but the lesser of either (a) the billed charge, or (b) “the median payment amount for the same or similar service in the geographic area”. This Administration final rule is in direct conflict with the letter of the law passed by Congress. In November, 152 bipartisan members of Congress sent a letter called on the administration to revise the new rules before they take effect on Jan. 1. In the absence of action on this request, legal action became necessary. On Dec. 9, the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Hospital Association (AHA) filed suit against the Biden Administration in an effort to stop part of the surprise billing regulations from going into effect in January. The AANS and CNS will be leading an amicus brief effort supporting the AMA/AHA lawsuit. Other state medical and national specialty societies will join this initiative.
On December 7, 2021 by a close vote of 222 to 212, the House of Representatives passed S. 610, the Protecting Medicare & American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act. It then went on to reconcile with the Senate where it originated and was subsequently signed by the White House December 10, 2021. The bill will mitigate steep Medicare payment cuts in 2022. Specifically, the legislation (which prevents approximately 7.75% of the anticipated 9.75% payment cuts):
- Delays the 4% Pay-as-You-Go cuts for through 2022
- Provides a one-year 3.0% payment adjustment to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor (CF) to help offset next year’s 3.75% CF reduction; and
- Extends the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequestration cuts for Q1 and suspends 1% of the sequestration cut for Q2. The 2% sequester cut would resume in Q3 and Q4 of 2022.
While this is good news, it is not the Medicare Fee Schedule reform that is so desperately needed as a long-term solution. It merely temporarily delays the next fiscal “cliff” and allows this recurring ongoing threat to the viability of physician practice to continue to be used as a leveraging bargaining chip going forward. Our Washington Office and NeurosurgeryPAC working through the Surgical Care Coalition worked hard and are to be thanked and congratulated for at least achieving this temporary, partial victory.
I would once again like to take this opportunity to ask all CANS members to please consider getting involved. We need your thoughts, ideas and input. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to get more involved with CANS at email@example.com. Even if you cannot dedicate your own time and effort, please consider financially supporting CANS, the national Neurosurgery Political Action Committee (Neurosurgery PAC) (https://www.aans.org/en/Advocacy/NeurosurgeryPAC), and the CMA Political Action Committee (CalPAC – https://www.cmadocs.org/calpac/donate ). Please do whatever you can to support CANS, the NeurosurgeryPAC and the CMA, they are fighting for you.
This message will be my last CANS newsletter “President Message”. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every CANS member, and especially my fellow CANS Board members, for the chance to serve during these difficult two pandemic years. It has truly been an honor.
All the best!