March 7, 2016

By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs


Capitol Hill Turns Green with Impassioned Neurology Advocates

The biggest Neurology on the Hill ever took place last week with 184 AAN members, 35 stroke advocates, 253 congressional offices visited, 879 tweets, 1.1 million social media impressions, and lots of pictures of everyone with members of the US House and Senate.

Your colleagues were more unified than just their green bow ties and scarves. They were there to carry these messages to their lawmakers: Congress must pass the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act (S 1465/HR 2799) that will allow Medicare to pay for stroke telemedicine consultations in urban areas. Congress must support full funding for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH. And that “Meaningful Use” is anything but, and we seek the elimination of meaningless regulations that take precious time away from neurologists and patients.

These office meetings on the Hill are important not only to make our case, but to see how the legislators line up on the issues. Our participating neurologists are sharing this information with staff and this will help us with our follow-up tactics. We're seeing members of Congress steadily signing on as cosponsors of the FAST Act and in support of the BRAIN Initiative. Look for a tally in the next Capitol Hill Report.

The AAN is broadening its advocacy to reach and include members of the public. We had great allies in the stroke participants and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. It was a very beneficial collaboration as these individuals put a human face on what the neurologists talk about. Their personal stories were compelling and gave a sense of urgency to passing the FAST Act as soon as possible.

Another new tactic this year was getting the word out more publicly on social media. Everyone at NOH was asked to use the hashtag #NOH16 to raise awareness of the event and the issues. By the end of the day, 179 participants had sent nearly a thousand tweets, reaching more than a million people, including patients, colleagues, friends, coworkers, family-and many of their associates, as well, as messages were forwarded and retweeted. They got to see a lot of enthusiasm and activism for neurology!

View the 2016 NOH Photo Album to enjoy more pictures of our visit. You can see who you recognize, either AAN member, representative, or senator. And if you attended, be sure to tag yourself in group photos!