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Capitol Hill Report: President Obama, Speaker Ryan, and the AAN

October 26, 2015

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

Speaker Ryan and the AAN
Republicans are expected to elect Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) as the next speaker of the House this week. The AAN has had a great relationship with Ryan and his staff for several years.

I attended a fundraising dinner for Ryan on the night before current Speaker John Boehner announced his plans to step down. I really don't think Ryan saw this coming as the discussion surrounded his efforts as chair of the House Ways & Means Committee and all the political intrigue that night revolved around work to get agreement on spending bills and the looming debt ceiling.

Ryan, who has risen through the ranks as a respected policy wonk on budget and health issues, has always understood the issues impacting physicians and was a leading force in the repeal of the SGR prior to it reaching the House floor.

AAN members in Wisconsin have the ear of the new speaker. AAN Government Relations Committee member Donn D. Dexter, MD, FAAN, met with Ryan (pictured here) during the August recess and he has frequently met with our Neurology on the Hill advocates.

Another refreshing thing about Ryan is his sense of humor. Ryan knows that I am a native of Minnesota, which makes our next-door neighbors in Wisconsin frequent rivals. No rivalry is bigger between these two states than the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. Ryan and I were mingling before an event one morning when he said, “Mike, you're from Minnesota, right?” After I said yes he asked, “Do you know what this is?” as he balled his hand in a fist and put it just inches from my nose. I said “No” and he responded, “It's a Minnesota Viking Super Bowl ring.” Of course, there were no rings on his fingers, symbolizing the number of championships won by the Vikings.

I'm looking forward to working with Speaker Ryan, even if he is a Green Bay Packer fan.

Nevada Representative Speaks to BrainPac at Fall Conference
Prior to Ryan agreeing to take the speakership, the AAN had some foresight into the workings of the House Republican Caucus from Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV) who addressed the BrainPAC reception at the AAN's Fall Conference in Las Vegas last week.

AAN President Terrence Cascino, MD, FAAN, introduced Rep. Hardy, as Cascino lives part-time in Nevada's 4th congressional district. Hardy, a freshman, told BrainPAC supporters that he was sitting down with any of the potential speaker candidates, but it was clear from most of his colleagues that Ryan would be the choice, if only he would accept the position.

Amery Joins American Brain Coalition Board
I flew from Las Vegas to Chicago to attend the American Brain Coalition (ABC) meeting, where I was installed as a member of the board. The ABC was created in the early 2000s by the AAN and the Society for Neuroscience and works as a single umbrella organization for patient advocacy groups, scientific societies, and medical associations to join forces to advocate for biomedical research and other areas of health policy.

The ABC has been at the forefront of advocating for neuroscience research over the last few years. One of the key successes has been the creation of the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus lead by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). Congressional caucuses are voluntary organizations that members of Congress join to raise important issues. The Neuroscience Caucus has been instrumental in educating members of Congress and staff about the potential of neuroscience research and the need for funding, including the impacts of the NIH Brain Initiative that was part of AAN's 2015 Neurology on the Hill program. The ABC really deserves credit for this step forward in the halls of Congress and I am proud to represent the AAN on the ABC Board.


Rep. Virginia Foxx Visits with Neurologists at Wake Forest University
By Tim Miller, Senior Program Manager, State Affairs and Grassroots

A big 'thanks' to AAN member Ihtsham Haq, MD, and neurologists at Wake Forest University for hosting Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and her staff last week to give the congresswoman a tour of their department. Issues discussed included the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 2124) and PICORI grants being used to do great things with stroke care prevention in North Carolina.

AAN members have hosted a number of congressional site visits over the last few years, which provide an opportunity for them to develop relationships with their officials on Capitol Hill, while also giving the official an opportunity to learn more about the profession and see how patients are treated in their districts. A photo album of past congressional site visits can be viewed on the AAN's Facebook page.


Palatucci Advocacy Grads Invited to Opioids Abuse Event with President Obama
By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs

Last week, President Obama traveled to Charleston, WV, to talk about opioid abuse. The invitation-only crowd included both Mitzi Payne, MD, and Dave Watson, MD, graduates of the AAN's Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum. Watson commented, “There were only two neurologists and both of us are PALF grads, which I don't think is a coincidence.” Payne, who said, “If it was not for PALF, I would not have this opportunity,” had a great interview on local television and also met West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Applications for the 2016 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum are open on AAN.com


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

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