ACEP physicians took to Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill at the 2016 Legislative Advocacy Conference May 15-18. This year featured record-breaking attendance with more than 600 participants, including 200 first-timers. Having that many newcomers attend the meeting is a great sign that more emergency physicians understand the importance of effective advocacy. After last year’s breakthrough on repeal of the flawed sustainable growth rate and the passage of Medicare and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA), this year’s conference took on a more “forward-looking” tone with a focus on creating a better future for emergency medicine in a rapidly changing health care delivery landscape.
Sunday Fun Day
Although the official ACEP conference program started on May 16, the Emergency Medicine Residents‘ Association (EMRA) and the ACEP Young Physician Section took the lead with their half-day “Health Policy Primer” educational program on Sunday afternoon. This program is designed to warm up residents, students, and those younger physicians who are attending the meeting for the first time so they get the most out of the experience, especially from the Capitol Hill visits. After an overview and introduction to the program by EMRA President Ramnik “Ricky” Dhaliwal, MD, his brother Jamie Dhaliwal, MD, discussed the basics of health policy and the “alphabet soup” of acronyms that are a must to understand the players and programs in D.C. Following Dr. Jamie Dhaliwal, the program consisted of a who’s who list of experts, including Mike Granovsky, MD, talking on fair payment and balance billing; Douglas McGee, DO, updating the group on graduate medical education funding; Brendan Carr, MD, presenting payment and delivery reform basics; and Aisha Liferidge, MD, leading a journal club discussion on alternate payment models. The program was capped off by Dr. Ricky Dhaliwal and John Rogers, MD, vice president at ACEP, presenting their views on how emergency physicians can, and should, get more involved in the health policy decision-making process as advocates for patients and our specialty. EMRA also announced the fourth edition of its Emergency Medicine Advocacy Handbook, edited by Alison Haddock, MD, and Nathaniel Schlicher, MD. Downloads or hard copies are available at www.emra.org.
The social opener of the conference is the National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee (NEMPAC) VIP reception. All “VIP” level contributors to NEMPAC are invited to the event, which was again held at the Top of the Hay rooftop room in the Hay-Adams hotel. Supporting NEMPAC is the easiest way to support ACEP’s advocacy efforts. If you aren’t already a NEMPAC contributor, access the NEMPAC website at www.emergencyphysicianspac.org or through the ACEP website at www.acep.org under the Advocacy tab. In addition to the official Hill visits with members of Congress (MOC), NEMPAC coordinated “Dine Around” dinners, each with MOC. Small groups of EM physicians, 10 to 12 per dinner, attend these fundraising gatherings. These dinners provide quality time with MOC in order to take the “deeper dive” on the issues and challenges that face us every day.
The meeting officially kicked off with a welcome from ACEP President Jay A. Kaplan, MD, who got the group all fired up by demonstrating new advocacy technology that is now available to all state chapters. Every attendee was able to email, Facebook, and tweet their MOC to let them know that EM physicians were in D.C. It was a powerful demonstration of how technology can make advocacy easier and more effective. The rest of the day was just as engaging with talks on disruptive innovation, alternative payment models, and ACEP’s quality initiatives under MACRA and Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Although adjustments to Medicare physician payments under MIPS won’t start until 2019, the data collection begins January 2017.