AAN Advocates Visit Capitol Hill to Fight for Neurology

March 1, 2011

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The 2011 Neurology on the Hill took place February 28-March 1, 2011, when 129 energized neurologists concerned about their profession took to Capitol Hill to meet with their Congressional Offices.

Members in attendance asked for support of crucial Alzheimer's disease and health insurance initiatives, while also reminding them patient access to neurology faces serious problems should the current health care climate continue.

Specifically, members in attendance discussed:

Cognitive Care

Not only is there a shortage of neurologists on the horizon due to an aging workforce, but current payment policies undervalue cognitive care services, which is leading to few medical students choosing to go into neurology. Failure to address this issue will not only continue to damage the workforce, but it will ultimately lead to fewer patients who have access to the physicians who provide diagnosis and care to complex chronic conditions that now cost an estimated $400 billion.

Solutions:


  • Support legislation to add neurology as an eligible specialty in the primary care incentive program established in the new health care reform law.
  • Stabilize Medicare by permanently replacing the broken Medicare physician reimbursement rates, otherwise known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), with a new payment system based on actual practice costs.
  • Address shortages in pediatric neurology by implementing the Health Care Workforce Repayment Program, which was authorized in last year's health care reform bill and is currently proposed in the FY2011 Omnibus Appropriations package.

Learn more about cognitive care solutions.

MIND Act

The cost for care of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's from 2010 to 2050 is likely to exceed $20 trillion in today's dollars. The Making Investments Now for Dementia (MIND) Act (HR 610) would fund Alzheimer's research by issuing new US Alzheimer's Bonds. Proceeds would be dedicated strictly for Alzheimer's research within the National Institutes of Health.

Solution:


Congressional passage of the MIND Act would make these funds available in addition to current appropriations. These bonds would have a similar rate of return as other Treasury bonds and have the unique benefit of allowing individuals not only to make safe investments, but also to support important advances in the future of Alzheimer's care.

Learn more about the MIND Act.

Health Insurance Coverage for Patients in Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are the foundation for all medical innovations and advancement. Participants can gain access to new medical therapies before they are widely available and can contribute to the medical research needed to improve care for everyone.

However, a major barrier to participation is the potential loss of private health insurance coverage for routine medical care while participating in a clinical trial. While language recently passed in the health care reform bill provides assurances that insurance must remain available for those individuals enrolled in clinical trials for cancer and other conditions likely to be fatal in the short term if untreated, it leaves individuals with other diseases interested in participating at risk for loss of coverage should they elect to participate.

Solution:


The Academy is asking for Congressional support for legislation to protect individuals from losing private insurance health coverage for routine medical care when participating in clinical trials for neurologic disease.

Amending this language to be less restrictive is necessary to continue to attract qualified individuals into timely and much needed clinical trials for all conditions. Federal programs like Medicare and the VA already provide such broad protection for their beneficiaries. Requiring private plans to do the same will not impact the federal budget and is likely to provide necessary conditions for the advancement of all biomedical research.

Learn more about clinical trials.

House Majority Leader Cantor and Congressman Carnahan Address Neurology on the Hill Attendees

Watch the videos from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO) from this event.

2012 Neurology on the Hill

The 2012 Neurology on the Hill will take place February 27-28, 2012, at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in Washington, DC. Applications for this event will open up in October 2011.

No experience is necessary, just a passion for neurology and desire to advocate for positive changes for your patients and profession. For further information, please contact Melissa Larson at mlarson@aan.com or (651) 695-2748.