National Advocacy Conference
Physicians take medicine’s concerns to nation’s capital
Hundreds of physicians from across the country have gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss key issues in health care, hear from policy experts and voice their concerns to their members of Congress during the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference (NAC).
As the new Congress gets under way and President Obama’s second term begins, physicians are making sure their lawmakers understand the importance of medicine’s most pressing matters.
Topping the list are the impending federal budget sequester cuts. If Congress doesn’t act by March 1, the sequester will trigger 2 percent cuts to Medicare physician payments and Medicare financing for graduate medical education. The cuts would take effect April 1 and last for nearly a decade.
Other high-priority issues include repealing the failed Medicare sustainable growth rate, or SGR, formula, providing a transition to new Medicare payment and delivery models, and addressing the national prescription drug abuse crisis.
Robert Hughes, MD, of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said the NAC is an important event for physicians to attend so they can communicate with their legislators about the vital issues in medicine.
“It’s important for us to be here because … we really represent the patient and the doctor-patient relationship,” he said. “No one else does that.”
Thomas Whiteman, MD, chairman of the Indiana State Medical Association board of trustees, said the NAC is an important opportunity for physicians to “interact with colleagues from all over the country who are dealing with many different issues. The NAC gives you an unlimited opportunity to learn from other perspectives.”
NAC attendees have said participating in the conference is a particularly special way to engage in grassroots advocacy.
Simply being in the nation’s capital is inspiring, said Gordon Hughes, MD, president of the Indiana State Medical Association.
“When you fly in and see the national monuments, you get refocused on the big picture,” he said. “There’s just something about being here.”