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Accomplishments of ABA Advocacy Efforts

The American Burn Association holds its National Leadership Conference annually in Washington DC. The NLC is the primary forum for the American Burn Association to advance its advocacy agenda on behalf of hospitals with burn centers and burn care professionals from across the nation.

National Leadership Conference

One of the most important IAC-member activities is participation in the ABA National Leadership Conference (NLC).  First held in 2002, this annual conference has gained momentum in recent years, resulting in an expanded program and increased attendance. At NLC meetings, attendees have met with their US senators and representatives and welcomed such notable keynote speakers as Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John Breaux (D-LA), and Richard Durbin (D-IL). These “face-to-face” discussions about ABA issues have created lasting relationships between legislative offices and burn care institutions. At the 2007 NLC, 84 attendees from 26 states and the District of Columbia met with congressional representatives for a total of 165 appointments, the highest number of appointments in NLC history, and the most with the senator or representative.

A significant milestone of the 2007 NLC was the introduction of ABA legislation, H.R. 685, “The Social Security and Medicare Improved Burn Injury Treatment Access Act of 2007,” a bill providing a waiver of the 24-month waiting period now required before an uninsured individual becomes eligible for Medicare coverage for disabling burn injuries, as well as elimination of the 5-month waiting period for Social Security disability. The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 24, 2007 by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA). In meetings with members of Congress, NLC attendees discussed the legislation and encouraged senators and representatives to support it. The bill currently has 22 sponsors.

The consistent ABA presence on Capitol Hill has proven critical in important decisions and Congressional activity on:

Bioterrorism State Appropriation Grant

ABA advocacy efforts achieved inclusion of burn care within the May 2004 Critical Benchmark Surge Capacity Criteria for Trauma and Burn Care in the funding continuation requirements for state plans administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Coding Changes

Initial meeting between ABA officials and CMS officials in 2002 resulted in the incorporation of final modifications to 2005 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System. Specifically, DRGs 504 and 505 were modified to include mechanical ventilation 96+ hours, and DRGs 541 and 542 were created for tracheostomy with 96+ hours of ventilation. Tracheostomy DRG 483 was deleted. These revisions translate into increased reimbursement for institutions treating burn patients.

Action on coding and reimbursement issues on behalf of IAC members resulted in the reversal of claim denials, important modifications to payment systems, and more appropriate reimbursement for institutions treating burn patients.

CPSC Special Commission

After ABA-supported legislation to reinstate flammability standards for children's sleepwear was introduced in Congress, the Consumer Product Safety Commission contacted the ABA and Shriners Hospitals for Children regarding a joint effort at surveying burn centers on sleepwear-related burns. The National Burn Center Reporting System, a collaborative data-collection effort designed to capture information about apparel-related burn injuries to children under 15, was launched in late 2003. The first report, which analyzed 209 incidents from 105 burn centers, was released in September of 2004.

Fire-Safe Cigarettes

ABA-supported legislation was introduced in both House and Senate in the 106th and 108th Congress. "Buzz" generated around issue aided in the passage of the first law mandating the sale of fire-safe cigarettes in New York , and has helped achieve passage of fire-safe cigarette legislation in 22 states, representing 52% of the population.