Leadership Day lets internists influence events

Internists descended on Capitol Hill in June to let the legislators know about the importance of funding public health and breaking the gridlock on issues such as malpractice reform.

Nearly 400 internal medicine physicians and medical students from 44 states and the District of Columbia gathered in Washington, D.C., on June 6 for the annual ACP Services Leadership Day on Capitol Hill. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the program is recognized as being highly effective in increasing the visibility of internal medicine issues on Capitol Hill and building leaders who are trained to advocate for the College's positions throughout the year.

Following an intensive day of in-depth learning of the issues, how best to talk with members of Congress about those issues, and how to follow up after a Hill visit, the delegates went to the Hill to tell their real-life stories. This year, they concentrated their messages on the effects budget cuts and sequestration will have on their patients and practices; payment reform, especially the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), and their support of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, H.R. 5707; and health courts.

Delegates and guests of ACPs Pennsylvania Chapter talk to Rep Allyson Schwartz D-PA in her office from right to left Christine Bui medical student Evan Pollack MD FACP Jenna Peart medical
Delegates and guests of ACP's Pennsylvania Chapter talk to Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) in her office, from right to left: Christine Bui (medical student); Evan Pollack, MD, FACP; Jenna Peart (medical student); Danielle Krol, MD; and Darilyn Moyer, MD, FACP. Photo by Rick Reinhard.

Specifically, attendees asked their members of Congress and senators to:

  • Ensure sufficient funding for highly effective and critically important public health, workforce, and medical research programs, while reducing federal health spending in a responsible way by focusing on the real cost drivers.
  • Co-sponsor (House) or introduce (Senate) the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, H.R. 5707, introduced by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV).
  • Break the partisan gridlock on medical liability reform by introducing/co-sponsoring legislation to initiate a National Health Court Pilot Program. ACP has developed a framework for a pilot where malpractice claims would be heard by judges with access to independent medical experts, rather than lay juries, resulting in more predictable and fair compensation to patients for damages resulting from medical negligence while reducing the costs of defensive medicine.