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Capitol Hill Report: Entering a New Decade, Meeting New Challenges

June 8, 2015

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

AAN Fights for Proposed NIH Increases in 21st Century Cures Bill
Ten years ago this week, I moved my young family from Minnesota to the Washington area to officially open the AAN's DC office. Today, in a shock to both of their Minnesota-born parents, our kids are now 13 and 10 and strongly self-identify themselves as “Marylanders.” This life-altering opportunity offered by the AAN to be a “DC lobbyist” has been truly a rewarding experience and I believe the benefits to AAN members have been significant. The AAN has gone from a very small congressional presence in 2005 to being firmly entrenched as a player in debates impacting physicians and patients in 2015.

Ten years ago, a couple of the hot issues were pending cuts to physician payment due to the SGR and an excitement about the recent completion of a doubling of the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2015, the SGR has finally been repealed, but NIH spending power has been significantly reduced due to medical inflation and actual cuts like the “sequester” from 2013.

The 21st Century Cures bill that passed out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee 51-0 a few weeks ago looks to turn the NIH budget around and recreate the optimism of 2005. The bill, HR 6, provides $10 billion for the establishment of an Innovation Fund to support biomedical research through funding of basic, translational, and clinical research at NIH.

The unanimous passage of HR 6 through committee is a great indication of the support for the legislation, which Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has said he would like to see on the House floor before the end of June.

There are obstacles as concerns about the cost offsets have been raised and, of course, the Senate must also act. But with 10 years of experience in DC behind us, the AAN has never been in a better position to support the efforts to pass 21st Century Cures through the full House. Capitol Hill Report will let you know when that happens. 

Mayo Advocacy Event Inspires
With Congress out the last week in May, I took advantage of an invitation by AAN member Jeremy Cutsforth-Gregory, MD, to attend a fundraising reception benefiting the AAN's federal political action committee BrainPAC, which he hosted for residents at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Dr. Cutsforth-Gregory is a 2015 graduate of the AAN's Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum, a Neurology on the Hill attendee, and was recently appointed as the resident representative on the AAN's 15-member BrainPAC Executive Committee.

The reception featured AAN President and Mayo neurologist Terrence L. Cascino, MD, FAAN, who spoke to 15 Mayo neurology residents about AAN advocacy and the importance of getting involved.

The next day, I got a great tour of Mayo neurology from Lyell K. Jones, MD, who serves on the AAN's Medical Economics and Management Committee and the Axon Registry Committee. The conversations at events like these really help me bring the perspectives of AAN members to Congress and I really appreciate all of the hospitality from everyone at the Mayo Clinic. 


We Need Your Vote! Neurology Represents at AMA Meeting
By Amber Stock, Program Manager, Advocacy 

Delegates have the opportunity to cast their ballot on nearly 300 proposals at each meeting that cover all aspects of the practice of medicine. Several proposals request clarification on the rules and requirements of participation in the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) Interstate Licensure Compact on telemedicine (see “Odds and Ends” below). Multiple state and specialty societies have submitted proposals on billing, coding, and payment policies. The meeting will cover a wide range of topics. Delegates can expect to hear proposals on prescription drug pricing, human trafficking, mobile medical apps, and even nuclear war. The AAN delegation will introduce a proposal in support of congressional funding for the BRAIN Initiative, which was one of three advocacy issues during the AAN's 2015 Neurology on the Hill. 

The House of Delegates meetings offer opportunities for the AAN delegation to advocate for neurology with the entire physician community. Every member of the AMA is allowed to select one national society to represent his or her views in the House of Delegates. The number of delegates allocated to each national society is based on the number of members who select that society to represent them. For 2015, the AAN has been allocated four voting delegate positions. We need your help to continue to grow our delegation. It is critically important for neurology members to select the AAN as their society so that we can increase the voice of neurology at the House of Delegates. Learn more about the importance of our representation in the AMA in the February issue ofAANnews®, and visit AMA-ASSN.org to select the AAN.


Odds and Ends
By Tim Miller, Sr. Program Manager, State Affairs and Grassroots

State Neurosociety Meetings
Below are the upcoming state neurosociety meetings. Contact Grant Niver, Program Manager, State Society Relations, with any questions.

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