Hundreds of emergency physicians and residents visited with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill during ACEP’s 2011 Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 30 – No 07 – July 2011
ACEP members from 47 states and the District of Columbia participated in 318 meetings in Capitol Hill offices with legislators and/or their health care staff. Almost all (94) of the Senate’s 100 offices were visited, and more than half of the House of Representatives’ offices were visited.
While on Capitol Hill, the physicians discussed implementation of the health care reform law, the unstable Medicare physician payment system, medical liability reform (in particular, for physicians providing care under the EMTALA mandate), and the need to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created in the health care reform law.
ACEP President Dr. Sandra Schneider encouraged the conference attendees to take advantage of the opportunity to enlighten the lawmakers on important statistics – specifically, that only 8% of ED visits are nonurgent (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and that emergency medicine represents just 2% of the health care budget (according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).
“They need to know that [reducing expenditures on emergency care will not be] the salvation of health care,” she said, adding that the emergency physician’s role in the federal process is to make the law “palatable in some fashion.”
“If we fail now, we won’t be able to go back. Now is the time. We have just this window of opportunity to make it happen,” Dr. Schneider said.
Michael Dunn, a political consultant with Dunn Associates, emphasized the need for emergency physicians to ensure that the specialty is represented by educating lawmakers. “The future of emergency medicine is not going to be determined by how well you do your job. It’s going to be determined by how well you do your job in politics,” he said. “Nothing good is going to happen just because it’s right or you want it to happen. It’s worth taking some action.”
Mr. Dunn suggested that emergency physicians get involved by donating to NEMPAC, ACEP’s political action committee; by inviting their congressional representatives to visit the ED and see how the health care laws affect their constituents; and by doing something to develop a relationship with their representatives, like volunteering or hosting a fundraiser.
At this year’s conference, more than 125 residents and medical students participated, as well as leaders from the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA).