Deem said that, in less than 24 hours, Congress had received 3,000 emails protesting that proposal. He added that physicians in Congress went to their respective leaders and were “able to turn this thing around.”
Jason Marino, AMA senior assistant director for Congressional affairs, later gave attendees the behind-the-scenes scoop of how AMA lobbyists caught wind of the proposal at a Feb. 3 charity event and had to swing into action and grab lawmakers’ attention over Super Bowl weekend. He emphasized the importance of those 3,000 emails in making Representatives and Senators pay attention to concerns over an “obscure” policy like misvalued codes.
Like Deem, Marino also credited the physicians in Congress for telling their leaders that MACRA cannot work if they take away its modest Medicare payment updates.
With such a recent and significant example of the power of physician advocacy, the message delivered by Vidya Kora, MD, board chair of AMPAC, the AMA political action committee, resonated with attendees.
“If medicine is our profession, politics is our business,” Dr. Kora said.
Advocacy has public health impact
Attendees noted how advocacy has become an extension of their practices. It also allows them to have a larger impact on the health of their communities and the nation as a whole.
“I always wanted to be a doctor,” said Hilary Fairbrother, MD. She never lost that desire, but her career objectives changed after getting involved in AMA advocacy efforts as a medical student, she said. Dr. Fairbrother chose to pursue a career as an emergency medicine physician with a public health focus.
Dr. Fairbrother said being an advocate for patients and physicians aligns with her goal of promoting public health—and with her personality. Health care has a lot of problems, she said, but just complaining about them doesn’t help.
“I’m a doer; I like to be part of the solution,” she said. And she added that as the nation debates health system reform and how best to advance public health, “the AMA has a seat at the table for all these discussions.”
Noel Deep, MD, president of the Wisconsin Medical Society and an internist at a 25-bed critical-access hospital, agreed. He said seeing patients in his office “is not the end” of his professional responsibilities.
“We need to be advocates for our profession and our patients,” Dr. Deep said. “That’s why we became physicians.”