Every day, emergency physicians across the United States feel the effects of decisions made on Capitol Hill. But some choose not to contact their local legislators because they question if one person – or even a small group of people – can really effect change. Dr. Paul Kozak and other emergency physicians who have hosted a congressperson or other legislator in their emergency department know without a doubt that the answer is yes.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 05 – May 2012
Dr. Kozak, president of Arizona ACEP, has hosted two congressmen at Mayo Clinic Hospital’s emergency department in Phoenix, the most recent being Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.).
“At each Leadership and Advocacy Conference in D.C., our group meets with senators, representatives, and their health care liaisons to discuss current issues,” said Dr. Kozak. “I always leave a business card and invite them to tour our emergency department and see firsthand how it works. I offer to serve as a resource for them should they have a question about any health care legislation.”
After receiving the news that Rep. Schweikert was coming to visit his emergency department, Dr. Kozak immediately contacted Jeanne Slade, ACEP’s Political Action Director, who briefed him on the very latest legislative news that could affect emergency medicine and provided him with additional reading material.
Rep. Schweikert’s visit included a quick tour of the ED, followed by a discussion of the latest legislative issues, specifically H.R. 157, which would provide limited liability protections to (emergency and on-call) physicians who perform EMTALA-mandated services.
“He hadn’t been aware of the bill prior to our visit, but shortly afterward, I received an e-mail from his legislative counsel saying that Rep. Schweikert had agreed to cosponsor H.R. 157,” said Dr. Kozak.
While that was an ideal outcome, Dr. Kozak says he also wanted Rep. Schweikert to associate a face with a name. “It’s always better when you need their support to have at least started establishing a relationship. You can then approach your congressman and say, ‘This new legislation is coming up, and these are the reasons why I think you should be familiar with this issue.’ ”
‘if I want emergency medicine to look a certain way 10 or 15 years from now, I have to … do something to change it, or I’m not going to like the result.’
Dr. Craig Newgard also asked Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) to tour the emergency department at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) when he met him at the 2011 ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference. “ACEP’s Washington office was very effective in giving us great talking points,” said Dr. Newgard. “There were several sound bites from those talking points that Rep. Schrader proved very interested in.”