Will and Mark Go to Washington
Mark Baker, MD, FACEP
Aloha to Hawaii ACEP members. I have just returned from an amazing ACEP conference, the ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference (LAC). This is an annual event held in Washington DC. I would highly recommend attending. It has given me a much better understanding for how things get done (or don’t get done) in Washington, and more important, it made it clear to me that if we want change, we need to make it happen. And we can.
The conference spans two and a half days. The first day and a half include lectures, panel discussions and breakout sessions that cover topics from current legislative happenings, opiates, gun control, small chapter concerns, to what it is like to work for the government. It is a very interactive conference. I made contacts with more docs at this conference than any conference I have attended. A group of us plan to continue an alliance of small chapters in western states.
The third day is devoted to meetings with our Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill. The morning is spent learning about the process of meeting with our legislators and their staff. ACEP has specific issues they want us to focus on during the afternoon meetings. It is common to meet with just the aides who do the bulk of the work. Each of our legislators has an impressive crew of administrative aides that focuses on specific topics. The aides are often young, enthusiastic, and smart.
Will Scruggs rocked it! We had four meetings over the afternoon, with plans to discuss two ACEP-backed bills. One is asking for funding for locally run programs to solve the ED psych bed crisis. The other is a bill that would help alleviate the balance billing issue that is plaguing our patients and at times making physicians look like money grubbing jerks. Will knows the material, knows how to present it, and knows how to talk to the politicians.
The highlight of the day (for me anyway) was meeting with Representative Ed Case in person and having him ask us questions about another complicated issue – our Medicare reimbursement.
Next year’s LAC conference is in late April. Give it some thought!
There are other things going on with the chapter. I hope you were able to attend the annual meeting on May 22 where Dr. John Rogers was the guest speaker. His background is incredible. He gave a special lecture on Artificial Intelligence. Bruce Anderson, the Hawaii Director of Health, also gave a talk.
Being an ED doc can mean a lot more than doing shifts – granted it is the best part of the job but getting involved with any number of pursuits outside of the department makes the clinical work even more fulfilling.
Mark Baker, MD, FACEP
President, Hawaii Chapter ACEP