Capitol Hill Report: Influencing the ProcessĀ 

March 23, 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.

Slated to become the Academy's President-elect at the Annual Meeting in Seattle, Bruce Sigsbee, MD, FAAN, joined me on Capitol Hill this week to help prepare the arguments for the Academy's position on health care reform for Neurology on the Hill, which takes place on Tuesday, March 24.

Based on our document "What can Congress do?", our argument states that Congress needs to realign the incentives it provides to health care providers so that specialties like neurology are more attractive to medical school graduates, many of whom frequently choose their specialties due to high debt load rather than the needs of the American people.

Dr. Sigsbee and I met with the following Members of Congress and congressional committee staff:

Each of these members and committees are key players and are currently drafting health care reform bills that will soon be moving through Congress.

The message we brought was, of course, the most important aspect of the visits. One highlight included the meeting with the Speaker's office, which took place in a room in the Capitol known as "The Board of Education." This was the room where legendary House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX) was in charge, bringing in members who didn't see things Sam's way to "educate" them.

But the true highlight was the last meeting of the day, where Dr. Sigsbee was asked by House E&C staff to come back on April 2 to testify on the issue of health care reform before the E&C Health Subcommittee. We are putting together the details of the Dr. Sigsbee's appearance and will be sure to share them with you in a few weeks.

This week is Neurology on the Hill. More than 110 Academy members will be on Capitol Hill following up with their members of Congress on the same issues for which Dr. Sigsbee and I laid the groundwork: ensuring that patients with neurological disease have access to high quality, neurologic care. Stay tuned!

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