Welcome to Chicago and ACEP14! This meeting is the one time each year that we take a moment to network with our colleagues from all over the United States and around the world. It is a time for outstanding CME, and more important, it is a time to be reenergized to practice, manage, and promote our fantastic specialty.
As your new President, I personally want to invite you to try to attend as many Section and Committee meetings as possible so that you can appreciate the breadth and depth of the interests of our members and colleagues from other disciplines. Please also note that I am gratefully accepting the baton of leadership from Immediate Past President Alex Rosenau, DO, CPE, FACEP, in a continuous, sustained, multiyear effort on our specialty’s behalf to attain our goals.
Let me take this opportunity to share with you some of the major initiatives that our College—supported by Committee members, staff, the Board of Directors, and perhaps your assistance—will be working on this year as we adjust to health care reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- In accordance with the ACEP strategic plan, we want our members to receive great benefits and services that are personalized for our interests and where we are in our careers. We also want to find ways to enhance emergency department operations to ensure long, fulfilling careers. This includes ways to support emergency physicians moving to and working in relatively underserved areas, such as rural and inner-city sites.
- Our members have been decrying the lack of access to mental health resources for psychiatric and drug-dependent patients. We have already begun to convene a coalition of specialists and medical societies to investigate programs that have been successful in certain parts of the country. We will then build upon those models and attempt to promulgate them nationally.
- In an ACA era, it is paramount that ACEP delineates and promotes the incredible value we provide in caring for patients 24-7-365. We need to help drive health care reform in our role as incredibly adept diagnosticians who execute efficient workups and timely initiation of critical care. On the other hand, we also have to be stewards of resources and recognize when care would be considered ineffective and extraordinary, such as at the end of life.
- As we ride the tumultuous waves in the rapids of health reform, we have to advocate for our patients and ourselves to receive fair treatment from insurance companies and federal/state government payers. We will fight against balance-billing prohibitions for out-of-network care and work relentlessly for adequate compensation for our physicians negotiating in-network participation rates. ACEP will also be working with our Government Affairs Office and our Reimbursement Committee experts to have a reasonable and logical resolution to the confusing and inconsistent regulations created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding the two-midnight rule, the three-day-stay rule, and observation versus admission status.
- Finally, we will continue to work for meaningful tort reform by promoting the Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 36/S. 961), which will encourage physicians and on-call specialists to continue their lifesaving work and ensure that emergency medical care will be available when and where it is needed. Specifically, the legislation addresses the growing crisis in access to emergency care by deeming emergency and on-call physicians who provide EMTALA-related services as federal employees under the Public Health Safety Act only for the purpose of providing liability protection. In addition, with the ACA’s stated goals to improve outcomes while decreasing costs, there is no better time than now to discuss tort protections for emergency physicians who attempt to eliminate the wasteful expense created by defensive medicine. We need to demand tort protections when we follow accepted standards of practice supported by clinical policies and guidelines promulgated by specialty societies such as ACEP.
This is an exciting time in medicine and a time with great challenges. Because of the critical and central roles our specialty plays in the acute and unscheduled care of 140 million patients every year, we have incredible opportunities to advance emergency medicine.
Please enjoy your educational courses at ACEP14, but also take time to engage with our members on committees and sections, as well as our colleagues supporting our specialty in the Exhibit Hall. Please make ACEP14 a catalyst for you to become an active member, promoting our specialty on behalf of our patients and colleagues.
Dr. Gerardi is President of ACEP and an emergency physician at Morristown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey.