The Time is Ripe For a New Dialogue on Capitol Hill

As part of ACC’s 2015 Legislative Conference, more than 400 cardiovascular professionals were on Capitol Hill yesterday meeting with their congressional leaders. For the first time in many years, cardiology had a fresh message to take to Washington. Now that the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is history, it’s time to focus on other issues that threaten the tremendous progress that has been made over the last several decades to reduce cardiovascular disease.

While on the Hill, ACC members thanked Congress for passing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and urged lawmakers to take the following action:

  • Cosponsor H.R. 3355/S. 488, a bill that would expand access to cardiac rehabilitation by allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac, intensive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
  • Utilize the expertise and experience of medical specialty societies to promote the usability of electronic health records by care team members.
  • Support new funding for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health at the levels provided in the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act.
  • As MACRA is implemented, work with medical specialty societies and federal agencies to develop alternative payment models that allow clinicians to provide the most effective and efficient care to their patients.

ACC members also used the opportunity to underscore the College’s Advocacy priorities: create a value-driven health care system; ensure patient access to care and cardiovascular practice stability; promote the use of clinical data to improve care; foster research and innovation in cardiovascular care; improve population health and prevent cardiovascular disease.

Before meeting with legislators in their offices, hundreds of ACC members gathered in the Cannon House Office Building for a special Congressional Breakfast during which Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA) gave remarks. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also stopped by to greet the crowd. During the breakfast, Wendell Primus, senior advisor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) accepted ACC’s 2015 President’s Award for Distinguished Public Service on her behalf. Earlier this month, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) also accepted the President’s Award. Pelosi and Boehner were honored with the awards for their roles in crafting and passing MACRA, which replaced the dysfunctional SGR.

D4S_3907As attendees learned during the educational portion of the conference, meeting with lawmakers once a year isn’t enough. Legislative Conference attendees must carry the momentum from this week back to their home states and engage their colleagues in advocacy efforts. Hosting legislator practice visits is one way to build relationships and educate lawmakers about how their decisions impact cardiology. Contact Elizabeth Shaw at eshaw@acc.org to set up a visit.

 Follow @Cardiology and #ACCLegConf on Twitter and visit ACC’s Facebook page to see ACC members in action. Save the date for the 2016 Legislative Conference, Sept. 11-13.

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