ACC Heard on the Hill as Part of 2012 Legislative Conference

More than 350 cardiovascular professionals descended on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet face-to-face with their Congressional delegations on the last day of the 2012 Legislative Conference

In addition to the Hill visits, the College also presented Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX) with the President's Award for his work in support of the health care community and co-sponsored a Congressional briefing on women's heart health, WomenHeart.

During nearly 300 Congressional office meetings, ACC members urged Congress to avoid further harmful health care spending cuts and reform the Medicare payment system. "Over the last several years one of  our strongest messages to Congress has been how the ACC and the cardiovascular care team can improve the quality of care regardless the payment model or the practice setting," said ACC Sr. Vice President of Advocacy James Fasules, MD, FACC. "This has started to resonate on the Hill." According to Fasules, these meetings and relationships with Congress are key when facing another round sustainable growth rate (SGR cuts), sequestration and potential imaging cuts.

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Rep. Burgess echoed these issues when receiving the President's Award from ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC, earlier in the day. Rep. Burgess has been heavily involved in Medicare payment reform and, in this Congress alone, has introduced bills that would address medical liability, high-risk insurance pools and veterans' health. Additionally, he played a critical role in this year's FDA user fee reauthorization. In accepting the award he shared remarks on his journey from the physician's office to Congress and noted that while there are many policy obstacles to overcome for young physicians, this is an exciting time to be a part of the medical profession given the remarkable advances in medical innovation. 

Meanwhile, many ACC members took part in the co-sponsored WomenHeart and ACC briefing, including Annabelle Volgman, MD, FACC, who discussed her work with women with atrial fibrillation (AFib) and factors that lead to AFib-related strokes. Volgman, as well as Christine Albert, MD, both agreed that obesity is a powerful predictor of AFib in women and, unfortunately, many people are unaware that they have the condition. Volgman pointed out that an eye-opening 2.5 million Americans live with AFib, and the number is expected to grow to 12 million by 2050. Furthermore, people over 40 face a one-in-four lifetime AFib risk and women over 75 are at an even greater risk. 

In addition, attendees of the briefing were able to get a first-hand patient perspective from WomenHeart Champion's Shannon Schroeder and Pamela Thomas, who both suffer from AFib but are able to live fulfilling lives. During the briefing, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) urged women to take charge and not be naive about their health and Boisey O. Barnes, MD, FACC, shared his belief that one of the leading issues of heart problems is limited access to healthy foods.

The action-packed day on Capitol Hill was a vital opportunity for the College and its members to share ways the cardiovascular community is navigating through rapidly changing environments and striving to provide quality, cost-effective, evidence-based care.

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