The fierce snowstorm that occurred during this year’s ACEP’s Leadership & Advocacy Conference cancelled multiple meetings with senators and representatives, including one of our scheduled NEMPAC Dine-Arounds (which offer ACEP members the opportunity to engage and support federal legislators) with the senior senator from Maryland, Ben Cardin (D). However, we were able to arrange another time to meet with Sen. Cardin, a man of his word. Recently, several ACEP colleagues and I sat down with him at the Monocle Restaurant, a Capitol Hill favorite for decades, located in a 130-year-old brick building just down the street from the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
The close, intimate meeting in a small, private dining room was a wonderful opportunity to break bread together, further develop our relationship with Sen. Cardin, and hear his thoughts about the current political environment, especially related to health care. The conversation ranged from lighthearted banter about the weather to serious, in-depth discussions about topics important to emergency physicians and our patients. The topics included the then-upcoming Affordable Care Act repeal vote, out-of-network and balance billing issues, and Maryland’s global budget revenue hospital payment model.
Sen. Cardin brought the prudent layperson standard from Maryland to the national stage, and he has been a fierce champion for this standard for decades. He was surprised to hear that it is again under assault in a number of states by Anthem’s newly announced policy to deny coverage for emergency department visits it deems nonemergent retrospectively. (See page 15 for more on the ongoing assaults to the prudent layperson standard.)
We had a great time with Sen. Cardin, and he gave us excellent insights to the current dynamics and politics of the Senate. Included at the luncheon from Maryland ACEP were President Drew White, MD, FACEP; Past President Laura Pimentel, MD, FACEP; Hugh Hill, MD, JD, FACEP; and I. Additional ACEP participants included Laura Wooster, MPH, associate executive director for public affairs; Brad Gruehn, congressional affairs director; and Jeanne Slade, political action director.
Dr. Hirshon is professor of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and an ACEP Board member.