Advocacy Monthly: May 2019

Advocacy Monthly

STS Advocacy Leads to Proposed AHRQ Funding Increase
In a win for the Society and cardiothoracic surgeons, the House Appropriations Committee has proposed the largest single-year funding increase in a decade for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Funding for fiscal year 2020 is proposed at $358 million, $20 million more than in fiscal year 2019. STS has consistently advocated for adequate AHRQ funding because the agency plays an important role in improving the quality and delivery of health care, as well as provides grants to STS members. The proposed funding is part of the Department of Health & Human Services appropriation bill that now will be considered by the full House.

Participate in a VIP Advocacy Experience in DC
Gain access to your members of Congress during the Society’s next Legislative Fly-In, July 15-16 in Washington, DC. This revamped VIP experience will include a legislative briefing on Monday afternoon, followed by networking with colleagues and a private dinner with STS President Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, additional surgeon leaders, and Congressional insiders. On Tuesday, you’ll have breakfast at the exclusive Capitol Hill Club in preparation for a day of personalized meetings with your elected representatives to discuss issues such as the use of inhaled tobacco products, research funding, and the physician shortage. Secure your spot now by contacting Madeleine Stirling.

STS Encourages Payment Reform Oversight
The Society submitted comments to the Senate Committee on Finance in response to the Committee’s May 8 hearing, “Medicare Physician Payment Reform After Two Years: Examining MACRA Implementation and the Road Ahead.” STS expressed concerns with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has enacted certain elements of the payment reform legislation, including physician quality measure reporting and access to Medicare claims data, and asked that Congress maintain strong oversight of MACRA implementation.

Society Endorses Tobacco Control Legislation
Today is World No Tobacco Day, a special day designed to highlight the widespread prevalence of tobacco use, the associated health risks, and effective ways to reduce smoking. STS recently joined several national medical societies and public health groups in endorsing bills intended to reduce youth tobacco use.

  • A coalition letter sent to Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) expressed support for their bill, Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, which would raise the legal tobacco purchasing age to 21, ban all flavoring in tobacco products, require graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging, ban online sales of tobacco products, and more.
  • A Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids letter sent to lawmakers also supported this Act, as well as the bipartisan Tobacco to 21 Act, which similarly proposes a minimum tobacco buying age and includes cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes; however, the letter warned lawmakers against allowing loopholes that would reduce the effectiveness of such legislation.

Megan Loo (left) with Rep. Judy Chu

Key Contact Connect: Cardiothoracic Surgery Priorities Highlighted at District Meeting
If you can’t join your colleagues in Washington at the July Fly-In, you can still make a difference by meeting with your lawmakers in your home district. Cardiothoracic surgery resident and STS member Megan Loo, MD did just that by meeting with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) in Pasadena this week. They discussed a bill that Rep. Chu recently signed on to cosponsor—the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, aimed at increasing the number of residency slots in order to address the looming cardiothoracic surgeon shortage as older physicians retire. Another important topic covered in their meeting was the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act, which would accelerate research into why women are disproportionally affected by lung cancer. For more information about how you can connect with your lawmakers, contact Madeleine Stirling.

Questions? Want to get involved in advocacy?
Contact the STS Government Relations office via email or at 202-787-1230.

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