|February 19, 2020
Physicians are Making Waves for the Purpose of Change
Physicians are "making waves for the purpose of change"
"They'll tell you talk is cheap, but you tell them silence is unaffordable." That was the message Sekou Andrews, creator of "Poetic Voice" kicked off the 2020 National Advocacy Conference with, reminding physician advocates that "there will always be those who will only wade waist-deep in the waters of change because they are afraid to make waves...today we are going to focus on making waves for the purpose of change." This sentiment echoed through the conference as attendees listened to speakers from the administration and from Congress, getting caught up on the latest issues in health care policy before heading to the Hill to make their voices heard.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) echoed a similar sentiment on the burden of prior authorization saying, "PA forms are deliberately burdensome—and should not be used as a tool to delay care." She is cosponsor of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3107, the Improving Seniors' Timely Access to Care Act of 2019, supported by the AMA, which would reduce unnecessary delays in care by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program.
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Efforts to ban surprise billing are under consideration in both congressional chambers, and the AMA is pressing lawmakers for a solution that protects patients but does not give insurers unreasonable negotiating power. One of the leading voices in this debate is Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who gave an update to attendees on this issue and urged them to convey how these legislative proposals would affect their local communities.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA)
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), MD, emphasized the need for physicians to be involved in policymaking. He encouraged physicians to tell stories about their patients saying, "I didn't get into medicine to take care of me, I went into medicine to take care of patients—remember that as you go to your legislators and your patients will be behind you." He emphasized the need for more robust research into legitimate indications for medical marijuana and asked for a federal solution to needless prior authorization delays.
Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD, a leader in Congress on issues ranging from graduate medical education to prior authorization reform, received the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service
Echoing the sentiment of many of the physician advocates in the room and speaking to the power of organized medicine, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said: "When I talk to the medical students, they say, 'Would you still go into medicine today?' I said, 'Yes.' Would I join the American Medical Association again? Proudly."
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