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We’re Going to the Hill and Need Your Support!

February 23, 2015

By Mike Amery, Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

More Successful Neurology Advocates
In the last Capitol Hill Report, I recapped the 13th Annual Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum and some of the successes of previous graduates. View a photo recap of the forum. I also have a couple of more advocate achievements to share.

The first was seen by many AAN members as it happened. 2015 Palatucci Forum Advocate of the Year, Javier Cardenas, MD, is a concussion expert from Phoenix, AZ. In the third quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, Cardenas was seen by more than 114 million television viewers as he escorted one of the players with a potential concussion to the locker room. One of the highlights of the Palatucci Forum is media training that helps participants become comfortable in front of the camera. I’m not sure Cardenas’ appearance counted but I know he would have been ready if a reporter had put a microphone in front of him.

The second achievement is by Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN, of Alabama. Potts was recently the editor-in-chief for Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers. The book has received laudatory reviews, including this one from the Huffington Post. Potts, the 2008 Palatucci Forum Advocate of the Year, has been a national advocate for the use of art therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. Potts’ father became an accomplished artist after having never painted prior to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Prepping for Largest Ever Neurology on the Hill 
In Washington, our team is getting ready for the AAN’s annual “Super Bowl of Advocacy” also known as Neurology on the Hill. The AAN’s Government Relations Committee, chaired by Elaine C. Jones, MD, FAAN, has been working to prioritize the top issues AAN advocates will bring to their congressional offices on March 3, 2015.  You can watch the activities of your peers while they storm the hill by following #NOH15 on Twitter.  We encourage you to retweet and help spread our messages.

We have been having conversations across Capitol Hill to make sure the issues we bring are timely. I spoke last week with House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Rep. Andy Harris, MD, (R-MD), who is an anesthesiologist. Both expressed strong support for a complete repeal of the SGR formula that will cut Medicare reimbursements by 21 percent on March 31, 2015, unless Congress acts. As readers of Capitol Hill Report know, an agreement on the policy to achieve a complete repeal has been reached between Republicans and Democrats, but offsets for the $174 billion cost have not been identified.

With the timing so close to Neurology on the Hill, SGR will certainly be one of the top issues for Academy advocates.

Other issues that will likely rise to the top are NIH funding for the BRAIN Initiative, which has great promise in unlocking some of the mysteries that neurologists confront every day, as well as a bill on medical malpractice reform that would allow physicians to rely on published evidence-based guidelines as the standard of care in litigation.


State Issues - Odds and Ends    
By Tim Miller, Senior Program Manager, State Affairs & Grassroots

  • The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a proposal put forward by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) that would streamline the state medical licensure process for physicians seeking to get licensed in other states, has now been introduced in ten state legislatures and appears to be progressing in many of them. The FSMB has said at least seven states need to join the compact in order for formalization. The AAN voiced its support for the Interstate Compact at the AMA interim meeting last fall.
  • Many state legislatures continue to address the issue of medical marijuana. Questions not only include not only debating the legality of it in general, but also how much can be prescribed, who is allowed to cultivate and dispense it, but also which conditions qualify for prescription. Late last year, the AAN released a legislative position statement on medical marijuana calling for more research on the issue while not advocating for the actual legalization of medical marijuana. Presently, aside from some forms of MS, there is little-to-no evidence about the effectiveness of medical marijuana for threating neurologic conditions. However, some states like Pennsylvania, continue to use epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease as examples of conditions suitable for this treatment. The AAN will continue to use its position statement to educate policymakers on this trending issue. 
  • AAN staff currently is tracking issues such as telemedicine, biologics, and specialty tiering around the country. Check to see if we’re tracking anything specific in your state.

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