June 24, 2016

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

This week's BOG Update is brought to you by B. Hadley Wilson, MD, FACC, Governor of the ACC's North Carolina Chapter and BOG Chair-Elect.

Transforming CV Care in NC: The Future is Now – Advocacy Edition

What works best for the North Carolina Chapter – its members and the patients that our members serve – is a multi-pronged strategy aimed at incremental change. One of the arms of the strategy is advocacy – a key enabler of the College's mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. When it comes to advocacy in our state, we are guided by three objectives: to clearly identify the issues facing cardiovascular disease patients and care team members, to lobby lawmakers, and to work closely with allies.

As a Chapter, we have formed health care advocacy coalitions together with our lobbyists focused on some key areas. The topics that have garnered the most interaction with lawmakers include: Medicaid transformation (accountable care organizations, provider-led entities, reimbursement, access, administration); alternative medicine and scope of practice for naturopaths, and sudden cardiac arrest awareness, training and education. We additionally work to advocate around medical malpractice reform, tobacco cessation, scope of practice for interventional technologists and other team members, and PCI oversight. Some new and emerging issues in the state where we have recently applied more energy are physical education, nutrition and wellness, as well as step therapy for prescriptions.

In the fall of 2015, Medicaid reform legislation was signed into law which established an oversight committee charged with overseeing the new law's implementation. Our state lobbyists hand delivered a letter and resource packet to each committee member which highlighted the contributions of both organizations to improving access, quality and reducing costs and explained how each could serve as a resource in their deliberations. The ACC surveyed North Carolina Chapter members on Medicaid reform, compiled the results, and submitted official comments to the committee as part of its effort to collect public and stakeholder input.

Together with our lobbyist in Raleigh at our North Carolina/South Carolina joint Chapter meeting, the North Carolina Chapter has posted the following within the North Carolina Division of Public Health, under the Department of Health and Human Services, Chronic Disease and Injury Section: Current Plan: The NC Plan for Prevention & Management of Heart Disease and Stroke, 2012-2017. Furthermore, under the Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health Branch, we have posted data about cardiovascular health. Additionally, I was recently appointed to the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force by North Carolina State Governor Pat McCrory. Hopefully, in this role together with the ACC, the NC Chapter will be able to further the understanding and promotion of population health to improve NC health care.

Grassroots engagement is paramount to advocacy success in the states and I am proud to announce that one of our own, Olivia Gilbert, MD, FACC of Wake Forest who recently completed ACC's emerging advocates program, met with our lobbyist and will soon participate in a "North Carolina Politics 101" session. The lobbyist will familiarize her with players and forces behinds health care policy in North Carolina and will arrange special meetings for her with lawmakers to discuss patient needs and how cardiovascular specialists can serve as a resource to them as they craft health care policy. We are excited for Dr. Gilbert and thankful that our voice will be heard.

We are always grateful for victories – both big and small – and could not accomplish any of these without the dedication and support of our involved and dedicated North Carolina Chapter members, our hard-working executive director Beth Denny, our dedicated councilors, and passionate state lobbyists. Thank you to everyone who has made these successes a reality in North Carolina.