On September 15, AANEM hosted its first Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Executive Director Shirlyn Adkins, JD, and Health Policy Director Millie Birr, JD, MPP, led 26 members of AANEM’s State Liaison Program on meetings with their legislators and legislative staff. The group met with a total of 76 congressional offices.
“Overall, the meetings were a great success. The legislative staff seemed very receptive to our message and supportive of our efforts,” said Birr. “The key will be to keep the momentum going and stay connected with these offices.”
While four issues were discussed during the meetings, the main focus was on EMG/NCS reimbursement. The liaisons educated the legislative offices about how the reimbursement cuts occurred and the impacts those cuts are having on both patient access and physicians’ practices. They also discussed the need to ensure that only quality EDX medicine is reimbursed (and at an appropriate rate) and that one way to do this is through AANEM’s EDX Laboratory Accreditation Program.
The state liaisons also advocated for the repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), the delay and/or reform of the Sunshine Act, and a bill currently circulating through the House, Patient’s Access to Treatment Act (P.A.T.A.).
“The congressional offices seemed to be very concerned about the reimbursement cuts and interested in learning more about our lab accreditation program and other efforts to support quality EDX medicine,” said Birr. “The liaisons were excited about the meetings and immediately expressed a keen interest in turning these meetings into an annual or semi-annual event.”
Adkins added, "It is clear that if physicians expect change, they need to become more involved in the political process through meetings in their own states and contributing financially to campaigns. Several of the liaisons are planning to invite their legislators to see a needle EMG and NCS performed to explain the importance of the test and the time it takes to do well.
“We strongly encourage all AANEM members to meet their Senators and Representatives in their home districts. The more they hear about the impact on their constituents losing access to qualified providers, the better our chances are of getting changes in the current reimbursement."