New ACP Leadership Encourages Physicians to Provide Expertise to Legislators to Advocate for Health Care Issues

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Dr. Ryan D. Mire, new ACP president, and Dr. Sue S. Bornstein, new chair of the Board of Regents, stress that physicians are the experts in health care-related discussions

May 6, 2022 (ACP) — Armed with extensive experience in speaking to power, the new officers of the American College of Physicians are devoted to making sure that political leaders understand the challenges facing patients and the medical professionals who serve them.

“Legislatures have repeatedly mentioned they don't hear enough from physicians on health care issues even though we are the experts,” said Dr. Ryan D. Mire, the new president of ACP. “It's important for us to build trust by developing rapport and establishing relationships.”

Dr. Sue S. Bornstein, new chair of the ACP Board of Regents, put it this way: “Medical students, residents and practicing physicians are experts in health policy whether they realize it or not. They see how policies affect their patients. One of the most effective advocacy tools is sharing stories about their patients' experiences or their own experiences in medical education. Their knowledge and experiences are unique and can help legislators and other policymakers understand the impact of their policies on people in their communities.”

Mire, a private practice internal medicine physician based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the fourth African American physician to serve as president of ACP following the distinguished Dr. Gerald E. Thomson (1995-96), Dr. Charles K. Francis (2004-05) and Dr. Wayne J. Riley (2015-16).

Mire has served on the ACP Board of Regents since 2017 and chaired the ACP Medical Practice and Quality Committee. He was also the national chair of the ACP Council of Young Physicians. A native of New Orleans, he has been a Fellow of ACP since 2006.

Mire's advocacy journey began in 2007 when the governor of the Tennessee Chapter asked him to be an early-career physician delegate for ACP Leadership Day. “The experience was eye-opening for me in understanding my role as a physician to impact health care for my patients through interactions with legislatures that make decisions on our health care system,” he said.

“More importantly, in 2010, I was blessed to be able to attend Leadership Day with the late Dr. Fred Ralston, who was one of my mentors, national president of ACP, and a Tennessee Chapter delegate,” Mire remembers. “Witnessing Dr. Ralston in action was amazing. Being under his tutelage provided me with several pearls of wisdom on advocacy that I still implement in my legislative experiences today, such as my participation as the ACP representative in a virtual 2020 Congressional briefing on the crisis of primary care during the pandemic.”

Bornstein is based in Dallas and has served as chair of the ACP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, chair of the ACP Health and Public Policy Committee and governor of the Texas Northern Chapter of ACP. She has been a Fellow of ACP since 2003.

She is especially proud of the work done by ACP in 2018 when she chaired the ACP Health and Public Policy Committee and helped write an updated policy statement on reducing firearm injury and death. The statement generated a swift attack from the National Rifle Association telling doctors to “stay in their lane,” which prompted the “This Is Our Lane” response that galvanized medical professionals across the country to speak out about their experiences caring for persons who were victims of firearm injury. “It was a very powerful moment and has become a movement,” Bornstein said.

She is proud that ACP “advocates for policies that help physicians do more of what we love to do — care for patients — and reduce administrative burdens such as preauthorization's. ACP has been a strong and effective champion for getting internal medicine physicians paid appropriately for the great value we bring to our patients and the health care system.”

Mire offers several tidbits of advice about successful advocacy with political leaders, telling physicians to remember that they are the experts in the room when it comes to health and health care. He suggests sharing personal anecdotes to drive home the message, to keep the focus on patients instead of being self-serving, and to find common ground even with those whose perspectives may be different from one's own.

Moving forward, Mire has several priorities for advocacy:

  • Support the value of primary care as an evidence-based foundation to an effective health care system.
  • Improve access to prescription drugs and reduce prescription costs. “Some of the best medications for various medical conditions, such as novel anticoagulants and SLGT-2 inhibitors, are not affordable for the patients who need them most, which is a major flaw in our health care system and affects the health outcomes of the patients we serve,” Mire explained.
  • Expand telehealth services beyond the public health emergency.
  • Improve health equity by addressing the social drivers of health that contribute to health and health care disparities.

Bornstein offers this guidance: “Go out and advocate at your local community, state, and national levels. And remember — you ARE an expert!!”

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