ACC FIT and Early Career Members Help Bring Advocacy to Virtual Capitol Hill

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The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resolve of the U.S. health care system in its entirety. The constant stress of caring for the seemingly endless victims of the contagion – and the threat to self and one's family – has led to a rampant rise in health care worker burnout.

In order to accommodate the precipitous decline of in-person visits, there has been nearly an overnight adoption of telehealth and other digital platform-based services.

Furthermore, with this decline in visits, as well as postponement of elective procedures and nonessential imaging, there has been a major financial strain to practices – with many individual practitioners and small groups having to obtain small business loans or join larger practices to stay solvent.

It is these reasons and many more that advocacy is paramount importance to ensure necessary legislation is passed to help bolster and support our medical community.

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This year, the ACC embarked on the journey of continuing its mission by organizing a virtual teleadvocacy conference in place of its traditional meeting on Capitol Hill. The three-day event began with an impactful HeartPAC keynote with Charlie Cook and Amy Walter.

This was followed by an afternoon of training and preparation for our virtual visits on the Hill. Tuesday was the "main event," including a schedule chalked full of meetings with Representatives and Senators along with their respective staffers.

Overall, the virtual conference went off without a hitch and further demonstrated ACC and its members' commitment to cardiovascular medicine and the well-being of our patients.

In anticipation of the virtual Legislative Conference, the advocacy work group chairs of the Fellows in Training (FIT) and Early Career Sections collaborated to create a webinar with an impressive slate of presenters and panelists.

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Kicking off the presentation was ACC Vice President Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC, who provided a comprehensive overview of the ACC, including its future strategic goals. This led into a fantastic breakdown of the current legislative issues forming the bulk of the advocacy topics for the virtual Hill visits with ACC's director of Congressional affairs, Lucas Sanders.

We continued with presentations by Jill M. Steiner, MD, and Alice Chen, MD, regarding their personal paths to getting involved in advocacy followed by a great introduction into the HeartPAC by its chair, Sandra J. Lewis, MD, FACC.

The conference concluded with an entertaining but insightful role-playing exercise with ACC Past President C. Michael Valentine, MD, MACC, and Aaron Kithcart, MD, PhD.

All in all, it was a well-attended and awesome event that inspired and motivated its participants for the Legislative Conference the following weekend.

As the new ACC Early Career advocacy work group chair and member of the Early Career Leadership Council, I would like to personally thank everyone who helped put together and presented during the collaborative FIT and Early Career webinar.

Moreover, thank you to all who spent tireless hours designing and organizing this year's virtual Legislative Conference. Most of all, thank you to everyone who participated and took time out of their busy days to help lead the charge of advocacy on behalf of our beloved field and patients.

Brenton S. Bauer, MD, FACC

This article was authored by Brenton S. Bauer, MD, FACC, cardiologist at COR Healthcare in Los Angeles, CA.