Call your House lawmaker TODAY and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Proficiency Testing Improvement Act of 2005 (H.R. 4268)(external link), introduced Nov. 9 by Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga?., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, and Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Tom Price, R-Ga?. The bill, combined with a recent letter from 102 House members(external link) calling for a PT suspension and review, sends a clear message from Capitol Hill that this outdated program must not continue in its current form.

H.R. 4268 would suspend cytology PT for one year, beginning on the date of its enactment. Perhaps more important, it would not allow proficiency testing to resume until the Secretary of Health and Human Services makes revisions to the program, including that it:

  • reflect the "collaborative clinical decision-making of laboratory personnel" who perform gynecologic cytology;
  • institute "grading or scoring criteria to reflect current practice guidelines";
  • require testing no more often than every two years; and
  • make other revisions "as may be necessary to reflect changes in laboratory operations and practices since such standards were promulgated in 1992."

This legislation speaks directly to the many concerns the College and nearly 60 national and state pathology societies have raised about the 1992 cytology PT regulation since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) moved forward with the testing program last fall—more than a dozen years after the regulation became final.

What you need to do:
To make it easy for you to reach your representative, the College is providing a toll-free number you can use to connect directly to the Washington, D.C., office of your House member:

  • Call (866) 972-8888
  • When prompted, enter your ZIP code (you may need to enter your four-digit ZIP extension).
  • Follow the instructions for reaching your House member's office.

When connected to the lawmaker's office, ask for the health legislative assistant, or "health LA." If the LA is unavailable, leave a voice message for him or her. When you reach the LA, identify yourself as a pathologist and constituent and make these points:

  • You want your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4268, the Proficiency Testing Improvement Act of 2005, introduced by Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia.
  • The bill suspends for one year a cytology proficiency testing program based on a 1992 regulation. The regulation stood still while the science and quality of cytology has greatly improved over the past decade, resulting in a program based on obsolete laboratory practice.
  • The current cytology proficiency testing program wrongly penalizes qualified physicians and laboratory professionals based on outdated standards and threatens access to Pap tests.
  • The 1992 regulation overreaches its legislative authority by imposing an annual testing schedule and penalties never contemplated by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988.
  • The bill codifies the concerns of 102 bipartisan House members who signed a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt requesting that the program be suspended until it can be reviewed and revised.
  • Please contact Brandon Clark in Rep. Deal’s office at 5-5211 to co-sponsor H.R. 4268

Don't delay in responding to this alert—quick action is needed to ensure a satisfactory resolution to the cytology PT issue before Congress adjourns for the year. Call your House member TODAY.

Published in its entirety with permission.