Capitol Hill Report: Seeing Advocacy Through the Eyes of an AAN Intern

AUGUST 24, 2015

AAN Intern Gains Experience in Health Policy Advocacy
By Daniel Blumin, Intern, Advocacy

My name is probably not familiar to many of you but for the last ten weeks I have had the opportunity to intern in the AAN's Washington, DC, office. As a junior at the George Washington University studying international affairs and global public health, this was the perfect place to experience health policy from a hands-on perspective for the first time.

Working with the AAN's DC team, Mike Amery, Derek Brandt, and Daniel Spirn, exposed me to the legislative and regulatory aspects of federal health care policy within the US, and taught me a great deal about the operations of our health care system.

Throughout the summer, I participated in the AAN's advocacy efforts on the Hill with Mike and Derek, who gave me the opportunity to lead several meetings with congressional staff on a bill supporting expansion of Medicare reimbursement for stroke consultations through telemedicine. I witnessed the passage of the 21st Century Cures Bill in the House, attended critical Senate HELP Committee hearings on the future of EHRs and Meaningful Use regulations, and conducted research on various topics pertinent to neurology. With Daniel, I worked on the AAN's comments on the 2016 Physician Fee Schedule released by CMS. I was honored to be able to represent the AAN at a conference on the future of ACOs and a CMS meeting on the fee schedule.

The most unforgettable experiences were the events I attended for candidates running for Congress in the upcoming election. I will always remember meeting with leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Throughout my time at the Academy this summer, I was able to meet with more than 50 members of the House and Senate. Regardless of political persuasion, it was a treat to hear the unique perspectives on health policy and the various positions and opinions on both sides of the aisle.

I would like to thank the American Academy of Neurology for this incredible opportunity. I would especially like to thank Mike Amery, Derek Brandt, and the rest of the Advocacy team for the amazing perspective I received on health and politics this summer. I would also specifically like to thank Daniel Spirn for the incredible look into the regulatory affairs world of health policy and medical economics he gave me. 

Payers Receive Clinical Perspectives of Medical Marijuana Use in Neurologic Disorders
By Katie Shepard, Associate Director, Medical Economics

As the staff liaison responsible for developing the Academy's relationships with private health insurance companies for the last nine years, I know that payers use recommendations generated by AAN evidence-based guidelines in the development of their own clinical coverage polices.

To help payers implement the Academy's guideline findings in an appropriate way, I work with the Academy's Payment Policy Subcommittee to review the guidelines and determine when a companion “payment policy” piece is needed to complement the guideline. The companion articles are drafted by subject matter and payment policy experts to aid payers and clinicians in developing and seeking coverage.

Though payers largely do not cover the use of medical marijuana currently, a companion to the Academy's 2014 systematic review Efficacy and safety of medical marijuana in selected neurologic disorders: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology has been published in the August issue of Neurology® Clinical Practice. The article:

  • Supports recent attempts to reclassify the status of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II in order to help researchers' ability to generate evidence
  • Discusses possible long term effects of cannabis
  • Provides advice for clinicians who are counseling patients about cannabis use
  • Explores current non-coverage by third-party payers

Read “Clinical Perspectives on Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) for Neurologic Disorders”



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