Get Involved at ACC Legislative Conference 2017

August 16, 2017 | Hena Patel, MD

Every day, cardiologists confront challenges to providing the best possible care for patients, including the threat of liability lawsuits, mandates for electronic medical records, and scope of practice expansions, just to name a few. Many critical decisions that affect our patients' health care, such as insurance coverage and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals, are held in the hands of legislators at state and national levels. Consequently, cardiologists are increasingly realizing that involvement in the political process is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. Importantly, this involvement is not limited to practicing cardiologists. Rather, FITs are encouraged to engage with advocacy and ultimately shape the future of our field, providing equitable, quality care to our patients.

Many of you might be hesitant to engage in health policy and advocacy efforts due to time constraints imposed by the demands of fellowship training or unfamiliarity with complex political issues. While fellowship curricula are designed to develop skills for clinical and procedural proficiency, they do not prepare us for the new challenges of our quickly changing health care system. This is where the ACC can help.

Advocacy is a central mission of the College. The annual ACC Legislative Conference provides an opportunity to increase our presence in Washington, DC, and bring visibility to issues concerning cardiovascular professionals. The upcoming conference will kick off with a dinner hosted by the ACC Political Action Committee (ACCPAC) featuring political analyst and best-selling author Nicolle Wallace. The next two days will be filled with comprehensive educational sessions on regulatory changes and legislative action and the state of cardiology. Participants will then have a chance to schedule direct meetings with congressional leadership on Capitol Hill.

FITs have been a major constituency at prior Legislative Conferences, with representation from nearly every state. Recognizing FITs as the future of cardiovascular medicine, the College encourages us to fully participate in every event. We are given the unique opportunity to interact with both ACC leadership and legislators to help shape the future of cardiovascular care.

The current health care landscape is rapidly evolving and the magnitude of its changes make the advocacy efforts of the College especially critical. Physicians are on the frontlines of medicine, and have a much greater understanding of the needs of the health care system and our patients than legislators. Engagement in advocacy is part of our professional responsibility. Some easy ways for FITs to get involved in the legislative process include participating in local state chapter legislative days, joining ACCPAC and attending the Legislative Conference. Let's represent our patients and colleagues on Capitol Hill this fall and grab hold of our future.

This article was authored by Hena Patel, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, member of the FIT Section Leadership Council and co-chair of the Section's Advocacy Work Group.