February 20, 2017

By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel


AAN Sets Reform Criteria with Health Care Delivery Principles

In the last Capitol Hill Report, I detailed the “Three Buckets” process of how congressional Republicans intend to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Two weeks later, there are a few more proposals on the table, but it still appears that Congress has a long way to go before any votes begin.

The AAN is in a good position and prepared to participate in the debate over the proposals. The principles outlined below create the framework of AAN priorities that will inform the AAN's position on proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act. These principles were drafted by the AAN Government Relations Committee (GRC) after a significant outreach campaign to AAN members, and have been approved by the AAN Board of Directors. The AAN will support health care policies that follow these principles:

  • Access to high-quality health care and preventative care through insurance coverage for all, including those most vulnerable to health care disparities, regardless of pre-existing conditions
  • Appropriately value cognitive care services
  • Limit administrative requirements and advocate for EHR functionality to ensure that physicians spend as little time as possible on low-value clerical work, and as much time as possible engaged in direct patient care
  • Continue efforts to streamline EHR interoperability and reduce data blocking to allow any willing provider to participate in a qualified clinical data registry
  • Improved valuation of patient-centered care setting alternatives including telemedicine and other innovative care models
  • Improve efforts to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals and other key drivers of health care expense through cost transparency and permit the negotiation of drug costs by Medicare
  • Medical liability reforms to reduce the cost of premiums and defensive medicine
  • Preservation of the physician-patient relationship including independent medical decision-making and patient access to needed treatments and education
  • Protect access to neurology care in all settings, including small and solo practices

We started our effort to educate Congress on the AAN's principles last week by meeting with several members of the House Doctors Caucus. The caucus counts 16 House Republicans physicians and dentistsas members and several of those we met hold key positions in Congress, including Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX), chair of the health subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Rep. Phil Roe, MD, (R-TN), chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Members of the Doctors Caucus made it clear that they plan to follow several of the positions important to the AAN, like ensuring access to those with pre-existing conditions.

The AAN staff and GRC members continue to review proposals with an eye toward how well they conform to the AAN's health care delivery principles.


FAST Act Introduced in the House

Just in time for Neurology on the Hill, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act was introducedby Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

The FAST Act garnered 172 cosponsors in the 114th Congress and is a top priority for the AAN in the 115th. More than 200 AAN advocates will descend on Capitol Hill on February 28 to push for support of the FAST Act, along with funding for the BRAIN Initiative, drug pricing reform, and to educate Congress on the AAN health care delivery principles.


Working on the Senate

Earlier in February, I was honored to join James Goldenberg, MD, FAAN, for several events in his hometown of Palm Beach, FL. Dr. Goldenberg is a member of the GRC and the master of ceremonies for the 2017 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum.

We started by visiting two Palm Beach County neurology practices to discuss MACRA, the AAN federal advocacy efforts, and BrainPAC. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear from AAN members about how things are going and what types of actions they would like to see the federal government take. On this trip, the issues I heard about primarily were focused on regulatory burdens and maintenance of certification requirements.

Dr. Goldenberg and I then attended the winter retreat of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Dr. Goldenberg had great conversations with many of the 19 US senators who attended the event, including Sens. Cruz (TX), Capito (WV), Rounds (SD), and had dinner with Sen. Rand Paul, MD, (KY) and his family.

This was an excellent opportunity to talk about proposed changes in health policy and how essential it is that Congress works to ensure improved access to care for patients and reduce regulatory burdens on physicians.


New BrainPAC Manager

I opened the AAN DC office in 2005. We expanded to three staffers in 2011 with the addition of another lobbyist and a regulatory counsel. Last week, we became four with the addition of Natalie Pontzer as our new Manager, BrainPAC and Political Affairs. Natalie comes to us from the American Dental Association. If you are attending Neurology on the Hill or the Annual Meeting, please be sure to introduce yourself to her at the BrainPAC booth.