September 23, 2016

What works best in your Chapter for member/patient benefit?

This week's BOG Update is brought to you by A. Allen Seals, MD, FACC, Chair of the BOG.

2016 ACC Legislative Conference Recap: Part II

The 25th Annual ACC Legislative Conference once again was an opportunity for cardiovascular professionals to take our message to lawmakers and key staff on Capitol Hill. These Congressional visits were expertly organized by the collaborative efforts of ACC Advocacy staff and chapter leadership. These personal interactions should set the stage for additional local District visits to help ensure success of our ACC Advocacy objectives. The enclosed comments and feedback from multiple different ACC chapters highlight the diversity of experiences on the Hill.

From: Laxmi Mehta, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's Ohio Chapter

The 27 members of ACC's Ohio Chapter who attended the 2016 ACC Legislative Conference found it to be a resounding success. They were engaged and interested in learning more about MACRA and truly enjoyed the visits on the Hill. ACC's Ohio Chapter believes strongly in advocacy, and for that reason we support our members with numerous stipends so that they may attend our state and national legislative conferences.

Taking part in advocacy at the state and national levels is paramount for the future practice of medicine, and we need to take an active (not reactive) role in health care legislation. It was interesting to hear from cardiologists, Fellows in Training, and Cardiovascular Team members from across the country regarding concerns about the imminent changes that will occur in health care. Because there is so much new information to absorb and implement, it will be critical for our ACC members to visit the MACRA hub on, and attend the Cardiovascular Summit and Leadership Forum, which will be held Jan. 26 – 28, 2017 in Orlando.

On a flight earlier this week, I met Ohio's Governor John Kasich. Not only did I thank him for his support for signing the high school CPR and prior authorization bills in Ohio, but I also discussed our legislative meetings and received some advice on how to push forward with sudden cardiac death legislation in Ohio. At the end of our conversation he told me, "[It] looks like you are spending a lot of time in politics and less time in medicine." I responded that the politics of medicine impacts population health, and that advocacy gives us a way to care for the greater patient population in addition to the individual patients whom we care for in our practices. Advocacy may not be what we were taught in medical school, but it is a vital skill that we need to ensure that our voices are heard.

From: John Erwin, III, MD, FACC , Governor of ACC's Texas Chapter

These are tough times in the U.S. for health care. Between added administrative/documentation burdens, expensive patient insurance premiums/copays, and the insecurity of what MACRA means to practicing physicians, our health care workforce is weary and burned out. Interactions with positive, constructive problem solvers such as what we have with our colleagues in the College are always refreshing. Though we are all very realistic about what lies ahead, I always come away from the Legislative Session (and any event with the ACC) knowing that I'm on the right team and that we have the wisdom and skills to find the best possible outcomes in any situation.

From: B. Hadley Wilson, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's North Carolina Chapter and chair-elect of the BOG

It was our best trip to the Hill in over five years meeting with two representatives, one senator, and four other staff members in this tumultuous election year. Amy M. Winiger, RN, our nurse practitioner and Cardiovascular Team Council member gave a wonderful example of her mother in cardiac rehabilitation. The representative seemed to find it very refreshing that a cardiologist had no issues with scope of practice in this regard (as compared with other specialists). Furthermore the co-sponsors of the Cures 21st Century Cures Act were pleased that we acknowledged and thanked them for their involvement. There was widespread bipartisan support of our own Robert M. Califf, MD, MACC, continuing as director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration past inauguration day in January. Perhaps most surprising, we did the most educating regarding MACRA. They seemed pleased to know that they can call on us as a resource when dealing with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Overall, we had the most interaction we've ever encountered, and our nearly 10-member group from North Carolina is pumped to return again next year.

From: Pamela Ivey, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's Nevada Chapter

Participating in our legislative process as an ACC member is important not only for us now but for our successors. MACRA is right here and will be for the next 24 months as it unrolls and the legislative conference was an excellent opportunity to learn how it will impact us. Although our practices may differ from state to state, our ability to affect our legislators is uniform and transparent.

From: Eugene Yang, MD, FACC, Governor-Elect of ACC's Washington Chapter

Wow! I have never attended the ACC Legislative Conference before, but I came away invigorated and armed with new knowledge about MACRA and other critical health care issues. I have a much better understanding of the ways that our ACC plans to keep us ahead of all the changes that will soon affect our cardiology practices. I also learned how the grassroots efforts of the ACC PAC are working to drive passage of legislation vital to our profession. Like most people, I was skeptical about the level of comprehension that our legislators have about health care in Washington, but I came away impressed by their fund of knowledge and how engaged they are about improving the quality of care for our patients.

From: Bo Calhoun, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's Mississippi Chapter

When talking to Senator Thad Cochran, I finished our conversation with, "what can we do for you?" He replied, "Keep helping Mississippians and I will keep helping you..."

From: George Linsenmeyer, III, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's West Virginia Chapter

The hallmark of chivalry is to fight the battle for someone else, not for our own self interests. We must show chivalry for our patients and advocate on their behalf.

From: Anuj Gupta, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's Maryland Chapter

ACC sponsors many conferences, but from my perspective, ACC Legislative Conference is the most important conference demonstrating member value. All practicing physicians are intimately, deeply affected by what happens in Washington, DC. ACC staff put in a tremendous amount of work reviewing legislation, regulations, and legal decisions affecting cardiologists, and because of their professionalism, is clearly heard on the Hill and in the regulatory bodies. Walking through Congressional and Senate offices is an exhilarating experience with over 400 cardiologists, Fellows in Training and advanced practitioners telling our representatives about our concerns and obstacles in implementing MACRA.

From: Garwood Gee, MD, FACC, Governor of ACC's Northern California Chapter

One of the profound experiences was going on visits with my colleagues, as we are of different practice experiences and at differing stages of our careers. Sharing our issues of the changing of the practice of medicine and cardiology with colleagues allows legislators to see the present and the future of our profession.

From: David Kenigsberg, MD, FACC, Advocacy Chair of ACC's Florida Chapter

Florida's A Team tackled Capitol Hill and the day was very productive as the 10 of us were able to meet with 20 congressional offices and both senatorial offices. Some of us were fortunate enough to meet with the lawmaker themselves including Representatives Buchanan, Ros-Lehtinen, Mica, Grayson and Graham.