Internists Gather to Urge Congress to Take Action On Critical Health Priorities

Include Medicare and Medicaid Pay Reform, GME Financing and Workforce, and Medical Liability "Safe Harbors"

May 21, 2014

(Washington) Almost 350 physicians, residents, fellows-in-training, and medical students gathered today to be briefed on the healthcare issues facing the country and priorities of the American College of Physicians (ACP). They came from just about every state and Washington, D.C. for the annual ACP Leadership Day.

"I know that you believe, like me that being a good physician requires more than knowing differentials and treatments," David A. Fleming, MD, MA, FACP, president of ACP, told the audience in his welcoming remarks. "It is also important to be an advocate for policies and practices that will influence the welfare of our patients and the health of our society. We advocate for policies that benefit our patients in accordance with the highest standards of care in practice and our profession."

The internists and aspiring-internists will learn from ACP staff, members of Congress, congressional staff, and independent policy analysts. Then, on Thursday, they will visit their members of Congress and present ACP's legislative "asks."

ACP's asks include:

  • extending a program that pays primary care physicians and most internal medicine subspecialists no less than the Medicare rates for designated services provided to Medicaid recipients (which, if allowed to expire on Dec. 31, 2014, will cause deep Medicaid payment cuts in most states);
  • enacting legislation to permanently repeal the Medicare SGR formula;
  • co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to establish "safe harbors" from malpractice lawsuits for physicians who follow evidence-based clinical guidelines; and
  • funding for workforce and Graduate Medical Education programs to address the growing shortage of internal medicine physicians.

"When you visit on Capitol Hill I challenge you to bring your energy, intellect, enthusiasm, optimism, and wisdom. Most importantly bring your passion for doing what is right in the development of health policy," Dr. Fleming advised. "Also, bring your stories -- share personal experiences of what it's really like to be a practicing physician, learner, leader, or trainee in today's challenging health care environment."

Dr. Fleming concluded his remarks by reminding the audience that: "in the end, your expertise is in the practice of medicine and how policies may impact the care of patients and the professional lives of those who care for them. When advocating emphasize your personal experiences and local observations-it is the anecdote that tend to be remembered, not the data or the research. Tell your stories about real patients, their concerns, and your concerns for them. Legislators also want to hear about ways to contain cost, so it is important to mention that ACP physicians are also interested in cost-conscious care that provides high value."

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 137,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554