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Dr. Amy Davis of Pennsylvania Receives Neubauer Award for Advocacy Work

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Davis has been part of Leadership Day since 2014 and has been credited with responsibility for developing state-level policies

June 4, 2021 (ACP) -- To say that Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based internist Dr. Amy Davis was shocked to find out she had won the 2021 Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award would be an understatement.

Davis, immediate past chair of the Pennsylvania-American College of Physicians Health and Public Policy Committee, did not even know she had been nominated for this prestigious award.

“I was at an all-day virtual seminar and got a text from the governor of my ACP chapter saying ‘congratulations,’” she recalled. “I texted back, ‘Thanks. For what?’”

And that's how she found out.

The Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions in support of the ACP advocacy program. It is named for the late Dr. Richard L. Neubauer, member of the ACP Board of Regents, governor of the ACP Alaska Chapter and advocate for internal medicine.

“I was dumbfounded and moved,” Davis said.

In addition to serving as the chair of her chapter's Health and Public Policy Committee, Davis has also served as a delegate to Leadership Day since 2014 and cochaired the delegation since 2018. Leadership Day is the annual two-day ACP advocacy event in Washington, D.C., where ACP advocates meet with members of Congress and push for meaningful change. Davis received the award at this year's Leadership Day, which was held virtually.

She has been involved in the advocacy realm since she first opened her palliative care medicine practice in 2008. At the time, she turned to ACP to learn how to run a successful practice. She first took on the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which called for more than $240 billion in payment cuts to physicians and made running a successful practice near impossible. The SGR was repealed and replaced in 2015.

“The system was falling apart, and I was invited to a council meeting to share my knowledge on how we could help get the care that our patients needed,” Davis said. Once she saw what a difference even just one voice can make, she was hooked.

Davis is credited at the state level with being responsible for policy development on at least a dozen successful legislative efforts, and she has developed relationships with her state senator and representative. And now she is fired up about the prior authorization process. “Almost all of my patients need at least one prior authorization, and these treatments aren't all that pricey, which adds insult to injury,” Davis said.

She has been vocal about telling stories of how this process affects her severely ill patients. “Patient stories make it more personal,” she said.

During the past legislative session, Davis also secured cosponsors for legislation to reform prior authorization processes in Pennsylvania. She is cautiously optimistic that change is coming -- at least at the state level.

Another advocacy issue on her priority list is ending the opioid epidemic. She started teaching nurses, physicians and social workers how to recognize and treat opioid use disorder before there was a national conversation about the issue. “I felt like I got more bang for my buck by educating the frontliners than making changes in regulations,” Davis said.

Since that time, she has provided leadership on five different bills affecting the use and prescription of opioids, Suboxone and fentanyl. She has also drafted amendments that provide relief to physicians prescribing medically assisted treatments for opioid use.

Every internist can and should get involved in advocacy work, Davis said. “We can make more of a difference when we get involved than most physicians realize,” she said. “We are so used to complaining to one another and nothing happens, so we feel like our voice has no impact, but it does. Make a phone call to a legislator and gripe to them. You can make noise through phone calls, emails or op-eds.”

Last year, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based internist Dr. Heather Brislen was awarded the 2020 Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award in recognition for her contributions to advance the ACP public policy agenda. Brislen was presented with her award at this year's virtual Leadership Day event because last year's ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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