Highlights From ACC’s 2015 Legislative Conference

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The 2015 ACC Legislative Conference was held October 18 – 20 in Washington, DC. The Colorado Delegation brought eight representatives, including five physicians, a fellow in training and a nurse practitioner, who represented six different institutions. During the conference, attendees were encouraged to remember three main points:

  1. Be an advocate. If there is an issue you would like to address, stand up for it and learn how to get involved with the ACC. ACC Advocacy has made huge strides on hot topics such as physician payment reform and the repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), appropriate use criteria and health information technology.
  2. "Shared goals and clear roles." The ACC embraces the team-based care model, which has each provider working in their maximum scope of practice.
  3. Meet with legislators. Colorado has two senators and seven representatives in Congress. State delegates are able to meet with legislative aides, or the legislators directly, to communicate ACC Advocacy messages and show that we are a powerful community.

During the conference, attendees were asked to discuss the four main topics below during our Capitol Hill visits:

  • Repeal of the SGR: After 17 years, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) was repealed and replaced with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). A big 'thank you' was conveyed to all members of Congress who voted in favor of MACRA.
  • Electronic health records (EHRs): The ACC is working to make EHRs more usable by having front line health experts weigh in on the design and flow. Specifically, ACC Advocacy is focusing on making EHRs interoperable so that health care providers can access records from other sources. The College wants the EHR companies to be more transparent by making non-disclosure clauses illegal.
  • NIH and FDA Funding: The ACC supports increased funding to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The House has passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which would add $9 billion to NIH funding and $500 million to the FDA.
  • Cardiac Rehab: H.R. 3355/S. 488, currently gaining co-sponsors on both sides of Congress, would allow advanced practice providers to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehab. This would allow more remote, rural facilities to offer these services.

Advocacy is more than politics. The ACC Legislative Conference empowers members of the ACC to get involved in order to improve health care. By participating in the conference and in advocacy work, you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

I encourage all CV Team members to attend this conference at least once in their life to experience the power of comradery and teamwork within the ACC community. There are ample opportunities for CV Team members to become involved in advocacy. The more we volunteer the stronger our voice.

This article was authored by Jolin V. Honas, NP.