The American College of Cardiology (ACC) National Legislative Conference offers an opportunity for heart team members to connect with lawmakers regarding issues key to patients’ heart health. Providers including pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, practice administrators, and physicians spend one day learning about the issues and a second day taking our ACC messages to Capitol Hill. ACC also included a focused workshop on leadership for Women in Cardiology this year, held one day before the Legislative Conference. All sessions comprised a busy and high yield 3 days in Washington DC. Key takeaways are:
The Women in Cardiology (WIC) leadership workshop was held at the American College of Cardiology Heart House, now celebrating the 10th year at the DC location. The workshop brought information to attendees – from communication skills to financial ‘well being’ to an overview of current state for women physicians in both academic and community medicine / private practice. The cardiovascular workforce is aging; recruiting a diverse workforce for future cardiovascular team members, in particular women in cardiology, is key to our nation’s heart & vascular health. Presentations from Dr Reshma Jagsi, Dr Robert Harrington, & panel assembled by Dr. Toniya Singh gave attendees perspective on careers in cardiology. ACC Women in Cardiology Section Chair Claire Duvernoy and the WIC leadership council organized a high yield workshop.
The legislative conference covered key topics for providers including the new payment legislation for Medicare.
Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)
MACRA is not the Affordable Care Act. Sessions including a panel discussion “MACRA 101” as well as a talk from Jean Moody-Williams, RN, MPP – Deputy Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) representative helped bring the cardiovascular team up to speed on prep for the new law.
Over 400 cardiovascular professionals gathered in Washington DC for the Legislative Conference ~ Ohio was well represented at the meeting.
This year the conference also included an introduction to Social Media and how to communicate cardiovascular topics to a wide audience ~ Twitter for CV professionals. State based advocacy was also a focus; with key examples for how the cardiology team can work with state legislators to improve cardiovascular health & care delivery. A great example from Ohio includes legislation to bring students education about CPR.
Tuesday visits to Capitol Hill are summarized well by the ACC blog. From a personal standpoint the day was spent in a totally different environment from office practice or the inpatient cardiology service & echo lab.
Ohio participants divided into groups to visit the Hill; our group included a nurse practitioner, two cardiovascular fellows in training, our ACC Ohio chapter Governor, and myself. We found our way around the Hill to the offices of Representatives Joyce Beatty, Pat Tiberi, and Warren Davidson, also to Senators Brown and Portman’s offices. Our group took turns talking to legislative aides about legislation to expand patient access to the key secondary prevention program of cardiac rehab, asking for increased funding for heart programs from NIH, FDA , and ensuring congressional oversight for the MACRA roll out & implementation.
We provided first hand education about cardiac rehab – what it offers patients, what’s involved, why the proposed legislation will increase availability for participation, and talked about the impact of medical research on Americans. Having a representative personally thank us for the care a family member received for a potentially devastating heart condition brought home the importance of what we as the cardiology team do everyday in addition to stepping into the advocacy role to ensure providers can continue their practice.
The 2 days of conferences were made up of more sitting than moving, but Tuesday on Capitol Hill was again a ‘good step’ day with > 15,000 steps by 7pm (is there more credit for walking in the DC sunshine = hot?). Getting to the Mall for a run before Monday’s sessions was not only beautiful at sunrise but also gave an opportunity to exercise.