Leadership sessions held in person for the first time since 2019; top advocacy priorities included access to health coverage and supporting internal medicine physicians on the front lines of care
June 3, 2022 (ACP) — Nearly 370 American College of Physicians members converged on Washington, D.C., in person and virtually in May for the ACP annual Leadership Day advocacy event. They held hundreds of meetings with Congressional representatives and staff members, all with an eye toward using the power of the federal government to promote change for the better.
“We met with our nation's policymakers while sharing powerful stories from our practices and our patients to provide unique perspectives and influence the legislative process,” said Dr. Eileen M. Moser, an internal medicine physician and geriatrician in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a member of the ACP Board of Regents and president of the Board of Directors for ACP Services. “Our goal is to forward policies that improve health care for our patients and to reduce impediments and create conditions to allow us, as internal medicine physicians, to advance health and wellness for our patients.”
This year's Leadership Day was the first held in person since 2019 and allowed ACP members to once again make personal, one-on-one connections. “We're thrilled about the added energy and could see the heightened relationship-building that comes with the more intimate interaction of meeting face-to-face,” Moser said.
The two-day event began with training and education. “We honed our knowledge on key issues through excellent updates from ACP staff,” Moser noted. “We received training on how to use stories from our internal medicine practices to provide context to the policy issues we discuss and how to navigate difficult conversations and to remember to explicitly ask for support of discussed House and Senate bills. We were also provided background preparation to learn of our representative's membership on committees and sponsorship of bills that align with ACP interests.”
ACP also honored Minnesota internal medicine physician Dr. Sally Berryman with the Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award and presented Oregon Senator Ron Wyden with the Joseph F. Boyle Award for Distinguished Public Service in honor of his outstanding work in support of health care.
Then, the 369 attendees from 44 states and the District of Columbia spent the next day fanning out across Capitol Hill in person and via virtual sessions. “In total, we had 399 congressional meetings — 85 Senate meetings and 314 House meetings. We visited 206 Democratic offices, 191 Republican offices and two offices of independents,” Moser explained.
Major topics included improving access to health coverage, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, supporting public health initiatives, ensuring Medicare payments recognize and support the value of care provided by internal medicine specialists, and supporting ACP members on the front lines of patient care including international medical graduates.
“As internal medicine physicians who provide primary, preventive and comprehensive care to adults and adolescents, we are frequently our patients' first contact for medical care and for continuous care throughout their lifetime,” Moser said. “We are in a good position to advocate for advances in real reforms for the benefit of our patients and profession. It is an honor and responsibility to join as a team to advocate for policies that improve health and health care.”
Moser urged ACP members to get involved so their collective voice is heard.
“Together we can and will make a difference,” she said. “Please sign up to be a member of the ‘Advocates for Internal Medicine Network (AIMn)’ and receive ACP Action Alerts. These alerts help us within the flow of our day to quickly send a preformed letter on hot topics that require action to our representatives. It is just a few clicks, and you can edit the letter as much or as little as you desire.”