Capitol Hill Report: Debt Commission Members Familiar with AAN

August 19, 2011

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By Mike Amery, Legislative Counsel, Federal Affairs, (202) 506-7468, mamery@aan.com

Twelve Named to Joint Debt Commission

As reported in the last Capitol Hill Report, the Budget Control Act passed by Congress earlier this month created a bipartisan "Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction" tasked with reducing the national deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The committee will consist of 12 members split evenly between the House and Senate and parties. Last week, the congressional leadership made the following appointments:

Senate

House

Commission Members Know the AAN

Mike Amery with House Ways & Means Chair and Debt Commission member Dave Camp (R-MI).

Since opening the DC office in 2005 and creating the federal political action committee BrainPAC in 2007, the AAN has had a daily presence on Capitol Hill. Between AAN members or staff, we have visited with all of the commission members, some very recently. BrainPAC has contributed multiple times to seven of them. Lastly, AAN Congressional Affairs Representative Derek Brandt is a constituent of Rep. Van Holland.

No matter what happens, the Academy is ready to make its mark. If the commission determines it's going to fix the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula the AAN will be there to make our case.

Specifically, the AAN is collaborating with other cognitive specialties like infectious disease, rheumatology, and endocrinology to make the case that substantial changes need to be made to the physician payment system in order to recognize cognitive care physicians. As I mentioned in a CHR in July, MedPAC agrees with us that something need to be done to "realign payments for physician and other health professionals to help ensure an adequate supply of practitioners in cognitive (nonprocedural) specialties who focus on managing patients with chronic conditions."

If you are constituent of any of these commission members and are interested in getting involved, let me know by commenting on this post or via email so we can work together to make sure your voice is heard during this critical debate.

RUC Rumblings

The American Medical Association's Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) has recently come under fire. Six physicians in Augusta, GA, filed suit against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick alleging that the doctors have been harmed by the Medicare payment structure developed through the agencies' reliance on the RUC.

This comes on top of news that the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) is considering withdrawing from the RUC. In June, the AAFP Board issued a series of demands to the RUC, calling for greater representation and transparency.

For many years the AAN has had a RUC seat with Marc Raphaelson, MD, of Virginia serving as our current representative.

Viste Neurology Public Policy Fellowship Webinar, Sept. 19

Have you ever thought about spending a year on Capitol Hill working on health policy issues?

The AAN, in conjunction with the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society, sponsor an annual Neurology Public Policy Fellowship. The program, named in honor of the tireless advocate Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, annually places a neurologist in a congressional office, on a committee of Congress, or in the executive branch, for one year.

I'll be hosting a webinar to discuss the fellowship in more detail along with recent fellows, Terri Postma, MD, and Nassim Zecavati, MD, on September 19 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Dr. Postma served as a fellow in the US Senate Finance Committee in 2008-09, and Dr. Zecavati worked for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) in 2009-10.

On the webinar we will go over all of the details of the program, what it's like to spend a year on Capitol Hill, and talk about the opportunities that open up following the fellowship.

Please join us by registering here by September 15.