LMS President’s Message, March, 2020
Advocacy in Action on Capitol Hill
By Mamata Majmundar, MD
The AMA advocacy meeting is an event where physicians across the nation come together to connect with political insiders, industry experts, and members of Congress about current federal efforts to improve health care. There were three physicians from the Lexington Medical Society attending this meeting in Washington, DC. This is a 2 1/2-day event with scheduled hill visits to meet with members of Congress. The event provides an overview on the organization’s stand on priority issues, advocacy agenda, things to keep in mind when meeting with members of Congress, and bipartisan policies.
Sekou Andrews, the creator of “poetic voice” kicked off this year’s event delivering relevant advocacy information inspiring the crowd through spoken word. His key for advocacy is to create personal connection with a story to make data meaningful and keep the message simple, consistent and unchanged. He spoke how one finds allies and can inspire others to follow lead in improving healthcare. His inspiring words transitioned perfectly to the Capitol Hill briefing and American Medical Association leadership perspectives.
The next two days physician’s met with Congressional representatives at the Capitol and received informational updates from the administration and several individuals from Congress. John King, chief national correspondent and anchor, “Inside Politics, spoke on the political environment, election cycle, and answered questions on current presidential candidates’ stances on healthcare issues. Seema Verma, current administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spoke on the agenda to empower patients and transform the healthcare system to deliver better value and results through competition and innovation. The United States Department of Health and Human Services, Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, focused on their departments work. Deputy Secretary Hargan spoke on the opioid epidemic, health insurance reform, drug pricing and value-based care, and on government wide plans to combat the Coronavirus from identification, supply chain, treatment and much more. Assistant Secretary Giroir touched on national initiatives, methamphetamine priorities, sustainable system payments, and the HIV crisis including pharmacies providing no cost PrEP to qualified eligible patients. The conference also included congressional perspectives from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Sen. John Barrasso, MD (R-Wyo.), and Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.).
The surprise billing legislation was the most talked about topic while we were in Washington, and on the afternoon of the last day of our event, the Ways and Means Committee passed the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act. The physicians focused on advocating Congress to ensure any final surprise billing legislation holds patients harmless and includes a fair and balanced approach that treats all stakeholders equally while preserving access to care.
The AMA advocacy meeting is a very well-organized event and allows physicians to connect with industry experts, political insiders, and meet with members of Congress about current federal efforts to improve health care. This is a great meeting to attend to generate support for policies on critical issues that impact physicians, patients and the health care environment at the national levels.