Capitol Hill Report: Active First Month for New President, Congress

February 6, 2009

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By Mike Amery, Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs, (202) 349-4299, mamery@aan.com

The mission of the Academy is to be "indispensable to its members." One way the Academy fulfills this mission is by representing of neurology in the halls of Congress. Capitol Hill Report presents regular updates on legislative action and how the AAN ensures that the voice of neurology is heard on Capitol Hill. The Academy's legislative counsel in Washington, DC, Mike Amery, offers weekly updates on advocacy for neurology and neurologic concerns.

With the beginning of the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress, the Academy has set forth a list of legislative action items, including physician reimbursement, NIH funding, and other proposals, which can be found on the issues page.

President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, but the discussion on health care reform began shortly after the November 2008 elections. Recognizing the opportunity—and threat—the Academy appointed a Health Care Reform Task Force that has written a document to help inform Congress of the need for patient access to neurologists. The Critical Role of Neurologists on Our Health Care System has been very successful in Academy efforts to ensure the voice of neurology is considered as Congress moves forward.

American Academy of Neurology CEO Catherine Rydell and I recently met with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) to discuss access to care. We also met with staff from the offices of Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND). Pomeroy is a member of the important House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, which will be considering many of the health care reform proposals. We are laying the groundwork for the work to eliminate a 21-percent cut in physician reimbursement under Medicare scheduled for January 1, 2010, and to ensure that any health care reform proposals ensure access to neurologists.

Congress recently passed new SCHIP funding and will move to an economic stimulus package that may include $3.5 billion in funding for NIH, $20 billion for Health IT, and $1 billion for beginning work on Comparative Effectiveness. The Academy has been active on each of these issues, ensuring that these proposals will provide opportunities to physicians for improving the quality and value of care to patients.

Read more on the Capitol Hill Report page.

Read all of Mike Amery's reports on the Capitol Hill Report page.