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Greening the Hill

March 9, 2015

By Mike Amery, Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

AAN is one of 750 societies urging Speaker Boehner to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)

Bow Ties and Scarves
“What’s with all the green bow ties and scarves?” 

This was the most common question for participants as Capitol Hill was hit with a sea of “Green Journal” green-colored neckwear worn by 156 AAN members in town for the 13th annual Neurology on the Hill. It was the first time we had used a common article of clothing making it easy to see all of the neurology advocates walking the halls of Congress. 

It was the perfect time to be on the Hill for neurology. On March 31, physicians face a 21-percent cut in Medicare reimbursement unless Congress acts. AAN advocates were asking members of Congress to permanently eliminate the SGR by supporting the repeal bill agreed to by more than 600 national organizations in 2014.

Advocates spent Monday learning the issues and getting insights on policy from speakers such as NINDS Acting Director Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, FAAN, former pro football player and AAN national concussion spokesman Ben Utecht, and Academy leadership. Bright and early on a brisk Tuesday morning, everyone headed to a reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building highlighted by speeches by brain research champion Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and newly-elected Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA), who was a gastroenterologist before entering Congress as a member of the House in 2008 and knows the importance of physician advocacy.

AAN advocates urged members of Congress to sign a letter of support for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH authored by Rep. Fattah. They also worked to improve care for patients by focusing on evidenced-based guideline use and protection from medical malpractice claims by advocating for the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act written by Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Ami Bera, MD, (D-CA).

By the end of the day, AAN members had visited with staff in 226 congressional offices and met personally with 80 members of the House or Senate. I spent the day with AAN President Elect Terrence L. Cascino, MD, FAAN, and was present for several of the meetings. I especially enjoyed an impromptu picture of the 16 members of the AAN’s New York delegation with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). For more pictures from #NOH15 visit our Facebook page

AAN members will keep up with those they met on Capitol Hill to make sure that the interests of neurologists are maintained and support grows throughout the year. Then we will do it all again in the spring of 2016. Watch for details in the fall if you would like to join us next year. 

Odds and Ends

  • The AAN and many other societies sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week expressing concerns about ICD-10 testing, quality measurement, and advance payments, seeking to ensure a smooth implementation later this year.
  • View an up-to-date chart on state legislative bills to see if AAN staff is monitoring any legislative issues in your state. Hot issues right now include medical marijuana, telemedicine, and the Federation of State Medical Board’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.  
  • The demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply, according to the recent AAMC workforce projections. By 2025, demand for physicians will exceed supply by a range of 46,000 to 90,000.

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