March madness

What a weekend. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual scientific session. A looming deadline for the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. And a Sweet Sixteen with Cinderellas galore.

We might as well eliminate the SGR. Congress sent a smoke signal on the scale of a raging wildfire on Wednesday, when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested that the House will vote today to place yet another 12-month patch on the SGR. The patch will prevent a 24 percent cut to physician payments from kicking in on April 1. The Senate is likely to vote on Friday.

With the deadline so close, it is hardly a surprise. But with so many patches, you have to wonder when the fabric will rend itself apart.

ACC.14 kicks off Saturday in Washington, D.C. It may be a bittersweet relief that questions about legislation to repeal the SGR, a product of Washington if ever there was one, won’t hang in abeyance over the three-day event. The conference will cover the gamut of cardiovascular care. On Saturday, the late-breaking clinical trials will begin with results from SYMPLICITY HTN-3.

I expect the ballroom will be packed, and I will be among the listeners anxious to learn reasons for variance between results in the U.S. and Europe. Medtronic, sponsor of the trial, reported earlier that SYMPLICITY HTN-3 failed to meet its efficacy endpoint, seemingly in contrast with earlier trial results in Europe and Australia. We’ll let you know.

Coverage this year will include sessions designed to help administrators and physicians run a variety of cardiovascular programs in the complex environment of healthcare reform. These sessions will offer critical guidance for those who want to implement the practice-changing insights gained through the late-breaking clinical trials and the many other presentations at ACC.14.

Which naturally takes us to the Sweet Sixteen. Some of the poster presentations, sessions that reveal significant results that didn’t reach the stature of late-breakers, panel discussions and other events all could develop into Final Fours—or Final Twenty-somethings, in the case of the ACC. It is exciting to see the finalists progress to college basketball’s Big Dance, but it also is rewarding to experience next year’s potential lineup at the conference.

Please check us often during ACC.14. We will post stories daily through the weekend and the following week and our newsletters will carry unique coverage from the conference. To subscribe, go here.      

Candace Stuart

Cardiovascular Business, editor