This year’s ACEP Leadership & Advocacy Conference (LAC) was perfectly timed to provide ACEP members an amazing opportunity to have their voices heard on the crucial issue of health care reform in Washington, D.C. With a new presidential administration and the newly seated 115th Congress considering a potential vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) at the time, the change in the timing of this meeting to March from the usual May scheduling seemed downright visionary.
However, the weather was not as cooperative, with the possibility of a major snowstorm forcing significant changes to the conference agenda. Although it took some good old-fashioned emergency medicine flexibility and ingenuity, most of the conference attendees were able to make it to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staff to carry the message of how important emergency medicine is to the viability of our national health care system.
Although the conference didn’t officially start until Monday, March 13, there were many pre-meeting events and committee meetings where important business of the College got done. With 120 emergency medicine residents and medical student registrants at the meeting, the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association (EMRA) and the ACEP Young Physicians Section (YPS) started the action on Sunday with their Health Policy Primer program.
This half-day session included great presentations beginning with an “Intro to Health Policy” talk by Rachel Solnick, MD, who serves as EMRA’s legislative advisor, followed by insightful lectures on mental health, graduate medical education, the ACA, and how the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) will affect physician payments for years to come. William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, from the ACEP Board of Directors closed the program with “A Roadmap to Getting Involved,” encouraging the attendees to be persistent in their advocacy efforts and to work through ACEP’s many opportunities to be contributors in the health policy arena.
LAC is really two meetings in one. The first two days are the “Advocacy” part of the meeting, which culminates with official Hill visits to members of Congress at the Capitol. The last day is the “Leadership” program, which focuses more on professional development and how to be a better leader and advocate for yourself, your colleagues, and your patients. This year’s leadership program offered great presentations, including:
- “Leadership Resiliency During Times of Constant Change” by ACEP President Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP
- “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: The Intersection of Social Media and EM” moderated by Ryan Stanton, MD, FACEP; and featuring Alicia M. Kurtz, MD; Howard K. Mell, MD, MPH, CMPE, FACEP; and Karolyn K. Moody, DO, MPH
- “The Impact of Implicit Bias: Leaders Beware” moderated by Douglas M. Char, MD, FACEP; and featuring Adrian M. Daul, MD, FACEP;Vidya Eswaran, MD; Kevin M. Klauer, DO, FACEP; Aisha T. Liferidge, MD, FACEP; and Bernard L. Lopez, MD, FACEP
- “Leadership Under Fire: When Crisis Defines Us” moderated by Robert W. Strauss Jr., MD, FACEP; and featuring Kathleen J. Clem, MD, FACEP; and Chad Kessler, MD, MHPE, FACEP
This year’s advocacy conference agenda was full of timely and informative presentations, including:
- “Creating Solutions to the Opioid Crisis” by Eric Ketcham, MD, MBA, FACEP, FACHE; and Mark S. Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP
- “Reporting Under MACRA–CEDR” by Stephen K. Epstein, MD, MPP, FACEP; and Pawan Goyal, MD, MHA, CBA, PMP, FHIMSS, FAHIMA
- “Out-of-Network/Balance Billing—Where Are We? A Federal/State Update” by Edward R. Gaines III, JD, CCP; Alison Haddock, MD, FACEP; and Nathan R. Schlicher, MD, JD, FACEP
- “Affordable Care Act—Repeal or Replace? What’s Next” by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), a 2016 vice presidential candidate
Day one of the conference was closed with an informative and entertaining presentation by ZDoggMD, Zubin Damania, MD, who did his one-man show on physician burnout and how to be resilient in the difficult world of being a health care professional.
The Hot Topic
Although ACEP has legislation that has been introduced in the 115th Congress on a number of important topics, such as EMTALA liability reform, this year’s legislative focus was clearly on the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the ACA, titled the American Health Care Act (AHCA). During the meeting, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provided a scorng of the original bill introduced in the U.S. House. The CBO is a nonpartisan office of the federal government that provides a fiscal note to a bill. This fiscal note delineates the proposed financial effects of a bill over a 10-year period. With the CBO report highlighting the fact that about 24 million people would lose health care coverage over the 10-year period, the conference attendees were focused on making sure emergency medicine’s message made it to the Hill. Under the leadership of Dr. Parker, ACEP developed a position of supporting key principles for evaluating any proposed health care reform legislation. Rather than being “for” or “against” a bill or reform plan, ACEP stood committed to making sure that our public leaders recognize the importance of emergency medicine in any health care system reform.