Guest Post from Alliance’s spokesperson Alex Valadka, MD
Chief Executive Officer of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute
Earlier this month, I attended the Alliance of Specialty Medicine annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Conference. More than 100 participants from 13 medical societies – including the AANS and CNS – attended the three-day event in Washington, D.C. During the conference I got to hear presentations from, and exchanged ideas with, leaders in health policy from Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Congressional speakers included: Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO); Rand Paul, MD (R-KY); and Ron Wyden (D-OR); and Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX); Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX); Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA); Jim Matheson (D-UT); Tom Price, MD (R-GA) and Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA). Kate Goodrich appeared on behalf of CMS.
Conference participants also went to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress to discuss important healthcare issues. The advocacy topics we broached included repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), graduate medical education funding, medical liability reform, and, fair Medicare physician payment by repealing the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and allowing patients and physicians to privately contract without penalty.
Neurosurgeons joining me at the conference were John A. Wilson, MD; Rick Boop, MD; Alex Khalessi, MD; Jack Knightly, MD; Greg Przybylski, MD; Dan Resnick, MD; Clemens Schirmer, MD; and Mark Spatola, MD. Together, we met with dozens of congressional offices on behalf of organized neurosurgery and the Alliance.
All and all, after engaging in this conference, I can honestly say that there has never been a more critical time for America’s specialty physicians to have clear and effective voice before policymakers in Washington. With greater numbers of uninsured, skyrocketing healthcare costs, an increasing senior population, the physician workforce in jeopardy and issues of quality, privacy and access on the line, the stakes for specialty physicians and their patients are high. Thankfully, the Alliance gives all of specialty medicine a voice, which is being carried through the halls of Congress.