Capitol Hill Report: AAN Visits the White House

June 25, 2012


By Mike Amery, Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs, (202) 506–7468,

Since opening the Academy's DC office in 2005, we have had a lot of success raising the influence and profile of neurology on Capitol Hill. We have had less success with the Executive Branch, but last week two AAN members got a foot in the door as they joined a meeting of specialty physicians at the White House.

Marc Raphaelson, MD, FAAN, who serves on the Academy's Medical Economics and Management Committee and is the Academy's representative on the AMA's Relative Value Update Committee (RUC), attended this meeting along with Farrah Daly, MD, who serves on the Academy's Government Relations Committee.

The meeting of 30 specialty organizations focused on health care delivery reform. The administration asked for information about progress on the local level and barriers for delivery system innovation. Participants included Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Nancy-Ann DeParle, deputy chief of staff for policy; and Elizabeth Fowler, special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy.

Drs. Raphaelson and Daly reported that the conversation was productive for the AAN. Dr. Daly received wide agreement to her comments that, as a physician who does home visits in her neuro-palliative care specialty and is the medical home for her patients, she should be allowed to be the point-of-system entry for patients, even if she is not board certified in primary care.

No Physician Payment Bill in 2012

I heard it first hand from House Energy & Commerce (E&C) Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) last week. The committee will not be putting out a significant physician payment reform bill in 2012. The clock has run out with elections looming and the Supreme Court's health decision pending for so long.

Assuming that he retains the chairmanship in the 113th Congress, Upton says that his staff will be prepared to introduce legislation that significantly reforms physician payments and repeals the SGR in 2013. We have heard that before, but having talked with his staff many times over the last two years, I think they probably are very close to having a detailed plan ready early in 2013.

You might recall from earlier Capitol Hill Reports that several members of E&C have been hesitant to sign on as supporters of HR 5707 by Reps. Schwartz (D-PA) and Heck (R-NV) in anticipation of an E&C majority bill. They are going to have to wait a little longer.

Disappointing, but not unexpected.

DC Staff Expands

Finally, we want to welcome Daneen Grooms to the Academy's DC staff as our new Manager of Regulatory Affairs. In her new role, she will act as our regulatory liaison with a particular focus on reimbursement and issues at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Daneen comes to us from the American Society of Radiation Oncology, where she served as a health policy analyst. She has a master's degree in Health Service Administration from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami.

Daneen's role will complement the efforts of the AAN Medical Economics staff in the Academy's Minneapolis headquarters who are responsible for regulatory, payment, practice management, and coding issues.