A Novel Experience at the 2015 Legislative Conference

Nov 18, 2015 | Joe Ebinger, MD

Upon landing in Washington, DC, the weather alone was enough to remind me that I was no longer in Los Angeles where I am currently completing my cardiology Fellowship at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. After exchanging my flip flops for wingtips, I quickly realized that the cooler temperatures were not at all reflective of the warm and welcoming environment of the 2015 ACC Legislative Conference. As a first time attendee and Fellow in Training (FIT), I was unsure of what to expect during the conference. What I experienced was one of the most informative and insightful meetings of my still young career.

While in training, we are focused on learning the intricacies of cardiovascular health and disease, memorizing guidelines and practicing procedures to care for our patients. This leaves little time to learn about the rapidly changing healthcare environment and how it will affect practice, both now and in the future. The same mentors that we lean on to help us grow as cardiologists often struggle equally with what the Affordable Care Act, electronic medical record requirements and repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate will mean for clinical practice. Just as medicine has its own language, health care reform has its own dialect.

The 2015 ACC Legislative Conference provided clarity to this otherwise maddening array of acronyms, showing where we have been and where we are going as a field. Leaders from both private and governmental agencies provided insights on what the recent changes in policy mean for providers, what problems the policy fixes and which remain to be resolved. ACC Leadership helped to place these issues in context, offering sound advice for practicing physicians and presenting the College's position on these important topics.

Armed with this information, the highlight of the meeting was visiting Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress and providing our real world experiences on how health care policy affects us and our patients. Even as an FIT, these elected officials took great interest in our thoughts, asking insightful questions and discussing new and exciting solutions to the problems that face our health care system. These interactions helped me to understand that as physicians, our ability to positively change our patients' lives extends far beyond the doors of our clinics, all the way to the halls of Congress.

As an FIT, these experiences and insights would not have been possible without the generous travel award from the ACC. I joined over 60 other FIT members who were able to take part in this event, largely due to the support of the ACC and their recognition that engaging young professionals helps to develop engaged leaders for the future. We are all incredibly grateful for this opportunity and are excited to bring this knowledge and understanding of our role in helping to shape health policy back to our colleagues around the country.

Learn more about the 2015 Legislative Conference on the ACC in Touch Blog and on the FITs on the Go Youtube Page.

This article was authored by Joe Ebinger, MD, a fellow in training (FIT) at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.