Guest Post from Alliance of Specialty Medicine spokesperson, Alex B. Valadka, MD
Chief Executive Officer, Seton Brain and Spine Institute
This week, I attended the Alliance of Specialty Medicine’s 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. The agenda included lengthy discussions with influential members of Congress who shared their perspectives on critical healthcare issues. We also heard presentations from, and exchanged ideas with, leaders from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA).
Congressional speakers included: Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK); and Representatives Ami Bera, MD (D-CA); Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM); Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA); and Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Patrick Conway, MD, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality & Chief Medical Office for CMS and Will Robinson, Manager of Public Policy for the NCQA provide insight on physician network adequacy and quality-related programs required by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. We also gained valuable insights about the upcoming November elections from Nathan Klein with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Anne Caprata with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Most importantly, conference participants 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 Drs. Maya Babu, Rick Boop, Bob Harbaugh, Brain Ragel, Dan Resnick, Clemens Schirmer, Konstantin Slavin, Mark Spatola, and John Wilson. Together, we met with dozens of congressional offices on behalf of organized neurosurgery and the Alliance.
With rising 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.