ACC Legislative Conference 2016: Reflecting on the Past, Planning For the Future
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” – Theodore Roosevelt
History is the centerpiece of the ACC’s 2016 Legislative Conference. Not only is the conference set in the heart of Washington, DC, where history is around every corner, but this year marks the 25th anniversary of the event. Over the last quarter of a century, the College has brought together thousands of cardiovascular professionals to advocate for policies that support patients, providers and practices. This year, almost 450 members have gathered in DC and about 300 meetings will take place with lawmakers.
The conference kicked off with a special ACC Political Action Committee (ACCPAC)-sponsored reception and dinner with historian Michael Beschloss who shared keen insights and fascinating anecdotes on the American presidency. Beschloss’ speech on presidential courage emphasized the importance of revisiting history in order to understand current events. While Beschloss focused on presidential history, his lessons also apply to the College’s history.
In 1965, the advent of a new law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson establishing Medicare and Medicaid caused the ACC to expand its focus to include advocacy in addition to education. That year the College moved from New York City to Bethesda, MD, in order to be closer to the National Institutes of Health and the nation’s capital. Soon after, the College’s Government Relations Committee formed and the ACC assumed an active role with legislators, advocating for physicians and their patients.
In 1987, the first ACC chapter was launched, giving the College a voice at the state and local level. A few years later, in 1991, the first Legislative Conference was held to advocate for cardiology on Capitol Hill. A decade later, the College’s voice was amplified with the creation of ACCPAC, which brought together cardiovascular professionals from across the country to shape future health care policies and protect patient access to quality, cost-effective care. In 2006, the ACC’s headquarters, Heart House, moved from Bethesda to Washington, DC, to be closer to Capitol Hill. Check out a special video celebrating the 10th anniversary of Heart House.
These historical events have strengthened the ACC’s advocacy influence and positioned the College to shape the future of cardiology. Passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), the most important advocacy development since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s, introduced a fresh set of challenges for the health care community.
Looking ahead to 2017, MACRA is at the center of the College’s Advocacy priorities. Next year, the ACC will focus on supporting and educating members on MACRA implementation and preparing them to participate in alternative payment models. Other 2017 Advocacy priorities include developing and executing strategy for state and federal advocacy post 2016 elections; building member knowledge and skills related to policy issues, processes and advocacy skills; and advocating for reauthorization of Food and Drug Administration user fee acts.
There’s no doubt that ACC’s rich history in tackling Advocacy challenges will help the College in this next era of health care.
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