Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Examines Surprise Billing

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted a Statement for the Record for a June 16 House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, No More Surprises: Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills. A variety of stakeholders shared testimony, including Physicians for Fair Coverage, The American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the American College of Emergency Physicians. Members of Congress asked questions related to various concerns, including network adequacy standards, transparency for consumers, and the surprise billing laws that have been enacted at the state level.

Further information on the College’s position on unanticipated billing can be found on the ACS website. For details, contact Hannah Chargin, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at

ACS Submits Comments on CMS and ONC Interoperability Rules

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted comment letters June 3 to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The letters respond to CMS’ Interoperability and Patient Access proposed rule and ONC’s 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking and the ONC Health IT Certification Program proposed rule.

The CMS proposed rule would implement provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that are intended to enable the useful transfer of patient data through open, secure, standardized, and machine-readable digital formats while easing the provider burden of data exchange. Although the goals of the CMS and ONC proposals are aligned in many ways, the ONC proposes to provide additional incentives for innovation and competition by giving patients and providers secure access to complete health information through updated digital standards and new digital tools. The ONC proposed rule also updates certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) and addresses information blocking.

The ACS supports the rules’ goals of creating standards to better facilitate the exchange of health information and ease administrative burdens, as well as increasing the types of available digital tools to share and receive health information. However, the ACS’ comments encourage ONC and CMS to limit the flow of data to include only relevant and meaningful information to the patient and the provider to avoid the administrative burden of a “data dump,” as well as to require apps to be certified for their clinical and technical logic so that surgeons can be assured that the apps they use are secure and clinically accurate. The ACS also encourages ONC and CMS to address outdated privacy and security regulations given the various possibilities of digital data exchange.

Read the ACS comments on the ONC proposed rule, and on the CMS proposal.

Dr. Henry Buchwald Receives 2019 ACS Jacobson Innovation Award

Dr. Buchwald (right) with Dr. Maier

Dr. Buchwald (right) with Dr. Maier

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) presented the 2019 Jacobson Innovation Award to Henry Buchwald, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCSEng(Hon), at a June 7 dinner held in his honor in Chicago, IL. ACS President Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), presented the award to Dr. Buchwald for his pioneering work and innovative research in metabolic and bariatric surgery.

The Jacobson Innovation Award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery and is made possible through a gift from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD, FACS, and his wife Joan. Dr. Jacobson is a general vascular surgeon known for his pioneering work in the development of microsurgery.

Dr. Buchwald was honored for helping to transform metabolic and bariatric surgery, formerly considered a fringe field for treating obesity and excluded from mainstream academic surgical practice, into a legitimate field of study and application.

As a laboratory resident, Dr. Buchwald discovered that the ileum is the primary site for the absorption of cholesterol and bile acids. As a result, he developed the “Buchwald Procedure”—the partial ileal bypass (PIB) to lower cholesterol levels. The PIB procedure was one of the first surgical techniques to treat a metabolic disease and remains the most potent therapy to lower plasma cholesterol levels.

Among Dr. Buchwald’s extensive research accomplishments is a landmark paper in circulation that led to the multi-institutional trial on the surgical management of hyperlipidemias—the Program on the Surgical Control of the Hyperlipidemias (POSCH), which received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health from 1973 to 1997. The study proved the link between cholesterol and heart disease, demonstrating that lowering cholesterol can reduce heart disease and save lives.

Read more about Dr. Buchwald’s career and accomplishments in the ACS press release.

Regents Approve Updated Statement on Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination

The Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) approved an updated “Statement on Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination” at its June 7−8 meeting in Chicago, IL. The ACS Women in Surgery Committee drafted the statement with input from the Committee on Diversity. The statement notes, “Harassment, bullying, and discrimination are three distinct interpersonal behaviors that can negatively affect professional relationships, physical health, mental health, and job satisfaction.” The statement defines these three behaviors and offers guidelines, which surgical departments and practices can use to create a work environment unencumbered by these forms of misconduct.

These guidelines encourage the following actions:

  • Build a culture of collaboration and respect
  • Have zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment, or bullying
  • Develop and implement transparent policies to address bullying, discrimination, and harassment
  • Add to surgical training programs a curriculum that addresses implicit bias, bullying, harassment, and discrimination

Read the updated statement.

Register Now for Clinical Congress 2019Clinical Congress 2019

Registration is now open for the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2019, October 27–31 in San Francisco, CA. The Clinical Congress is one of the largest educational meetings of surgeons in the world and offers outstanding opportunities for every stage of your career.

Building on the conference theme of For Our patients, the Clinical Congress program addresses essential clinical and nonclinical topics. It includes a series of Named Lectures delivered by world-renowned experts in their fields, Didactic and Surgical Skills Courses, Video-Based Education Sessions to showcase surgical procedures, and more. The Scientific Forum will include surgical research presentations and posters.

Registration is open to all physicians and individuals in the health care field. To receive the early bird registration fees, be sure to register by 11:59 pm (CT) Monday, August 26.

Hospitals Can Now Enroll in AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Surgical Care and RecoveryImproving Surgical Care and Recovery

In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is now enrolling hospitals to participate in a collaborative program to enhance the recovery of surgical patients. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is funding and guiding this program.

The AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Surgical Care and Recovery (ISCR) is designed to meaningfully improve clinical outcomes by supporting hospitals in the implementation of evidence-based enhanced recovery pathways applied within the framework of the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP).

As part of this program, hospitals will have access to evidence-based enhanced recovery pathways, coaching, and content calls with experts in the field, resources to help implement the program, the ACS data collection platform, and continuous clinical and implementation support.

Participation is free to all U.S. hospitals. Hospitals are encouraged to begin enrollment now to participate in an upcoming cohort that starts September 1. The ACS is enrolling hospitals that are interested in implementing a gynecology, colorectal, hip fracture, or joint replacement enhanced recovery surgery program.

Follow the links below to register for an upcoming informational webinar to learn about the program (all webinars will include general information about the program and will have time for a brief question-and-answer session):

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the program, contact

Still Time to Nominate SurgeonsVoice Advocate of the YearSurgeonsVoice

The Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) is accepting nominations for the American College of Surgeons (ACS) SurgeonsVoice Advocate of the Year. Launched in 2018, this recognition program monitors how surgeon advocates use SurgeonsVoice online to advocate for ACS advocacy and health priorities and make an impact. The Advocate of the Year is recognized annually at Clinical Congress, featured in the Bulletin, and invited to join other advocacy-related activities.

Top advocates participate in various advocacy meetings and events, establish and maintain relationships with legislators, engage via social media, recruit other surgeon advocates, and more. Although the DAHP is still accepting nominations, as of June 10, the following surgeon advocates are contenders for the 2019 Advocate of the Year award:

  • Stephanie Bonne, MD, FACS
  • Sherry L. Cavanagh, MD
  • Mark Dobbertien, MD, FACS
  • Tanaz R. Ferzandi, MD, FACS
  • Marion Henry, MD, FACS
  • Meghana Kashyap, MD
  • Amy Liepert, MD, FACS
  • Christine Lovato, MD, FACS
  • James Suliburk, MD, FACS
  • Alan G. Thorson, MD, FACS
  • Brett Tracy, MD

Read more about the program, including eligibility criteria. To nominate a candidate worthy of consideration, contact DAHP staff at