I’m happy to report we had a very successful Annual Meeting in San Diego. Our attendance was the third highest in our history, new neurologic research was strongly displayed, and the various education programs were well–attended.
The first big event of the Annual Meeting was the Brain Health Fair, which was held on Saturday just as the meeting was getting underway. Nearly 2,000 residents of the San Diego area joined us to learn more about brain disease. Several dozen AAN members volunteered their time to present classes on some of the more prevalent neurologic disorders. The event attracted many families with children, and the fair also had some fun educational activities for youngsters. This is the third Brain Health Fair sponsored by the American Brain Foundation at the Academy’s Annual Meeting and it is proving to be a very successful way to reach out to the public, informing them of the latest research advances in brain disease while demonstrating the vital role that neurologists play in health care.
There was considerable interest in our new guideline “Update: Evaluation and Management of Concussion in Sports.” Lead co–authors Christopher C. Giza, MD, and Jeffrey S. Kutcher, MD, briefed the media, and the story was picked up widely by leading news publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Business Week, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Baltimore Sun, US News & World Report, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Houston Chronicle, and Forbes, as well as National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, the major US television networks, and San Diego media. Within 72 hours after publication, the guideline was accessed over 40,000 times at Neurology.org. Publication of the guideline was accompanied by the free AAN Concussion Quick Check, a mobile phone app that helps non–physicians identify concussion; summaries of the guideline for clinicians, patients and families, coaches, and athletic trainers; and other resources you can find at www.aan.com/concussion. The AAN Board of Directors also approved an updated legislative position statement on the topic. A radio public service announcement will be broadcast in major markets, and a podcast interview with the lead authors will soon be available as well.
The Annual Meeting also gave AAN leadership and staff the opportunity to meet personally with members who have been alarmed and upset by reimbursement cuts for nerve conduction studies, EMGs, and intraoperative monitoring approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In addition to these cuts, practices also have to cope with a new 2–percent Medicare cut due to sequestration. We scheduled a number of opportunities at the San Diego Convention Center where members could discuss these cuts, including an open microphone session following the Business Meeting. While all of us are understandably frustrated by these actions in Washington, it is important to recognize that the Academy has been working hard on members’ behalf to try to change CMS’s position. The AAN has created a number of excellent resources to help guide members through this difficult period, and I urge you to review them at www.aan.com/go/practice/coding.
I want to assure you that the Academy is not retreating one inch in its fight for fair reimbursement for neurologists. At the end of April, 138 AAN members went to Washington, DC, for our annual Neurology on the Hill event. They met with members of Congress and their staffs to urge them to cosponsor legislation that would provide the same increase to Medicaid reimbursement for neurologists and other specialists that internal medicine subspecialties received in the Affordable Care Act. Our members also urged Congress to rescind the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate and establish a stable physician fee schedule that can be relied on.
I enjoyed meeting many members at the Annual Meeting and I am proud of our members’ advocacy in Washington. These two events exemplify the intrinsic value of the Academy: To help us update our knowledge to improve our skills as practitioners, and to advocate for the interests of our patients and our profession. Participating in these activities is invigorating and reaffirming, particularly given the many challenges we face. I encourage you to deepen your involvement with the AAN and make the most out of your membership and the many benefits it provides.
Timothy A. Pedley, MD, FAAN