With the world turning to teleconnections during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACR’s annual fly-in advocacy event in Washington, D.C., is going virtual. On May 22, ACR volunteer leaders and staff will meet with Congressional leaders in a series of more than 100 teleconferences to share rheumatology perspectives on the pressing challenge of maintaining provider solvency and the need for long-term solutions, including reimbursement and workforce support.
You Might Also Like
Also By This Author
This virtual Hill Day is designed to ensure the rheumatology voice rings loud and clear on Capitol Hill, according to ACR Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Blair Solow, MD, assistant professor, Rheumatic Diseases Division, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. “Our central message to legislators is that rheumatology providers need to remain financially solvent to provide ongoing care to their patients with chronic diseases. We also want to guide discussions on using disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to treat COVID-19 and on maintaining the workforce for post-pandemic healthcare.”
Parity in audio-only telehealth reimbursement and maintaining updates to the CMS Physician Fee Schedule for 2021, including a higher reimbursement for evaluation and management (E/M) services, are also important issues to be discussed, Dr. Solow says. “We plan to deliver on-the-ground, real-time feedback to Congressional members and their staff, as well as outline what our providers need to continue doing their jobs.”
Making Virtual Connections on the Hill
Dr. Solow and members of the GAC have been working closely with ACR advocacy staff members to successfully deliver this digital advocacy event. Virtual Hill Day participants will include members of the ACR’s Board of Directors, GAC, Committee on Rheumatologic Care (CORC), Insurance Subcommittee of CORC, RheumPAC and Affiliate Society Council, who will connect via teleconference with legislators and their staff members.
In the week leading up to the event, the ACR will host training webinars to help virtual Hill Day participants feel comfortable with the issues and the format, according to Dan Redinger, manager of the ACR’s advocacy and political affairs.
The broader membership will also be able to get involved in grassroots advocacy by sending messages up to Capitol Hill, Mr. Redinger explains. He encourages all ACR/ARP members to use social media and Voter Voice during the May 22 virtual Hill meetings “to help further advance rheumatology legislative priorities.” Send emails to your legislators and post on social media with the hashtag #Act4Arthritis throughout the Hill Day to amplify the ACR’s voice and visibility.
Know What’s at Stake
All the items on the virtual Hill Day agenda will focus on issues facing rheumatologists and patients during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lennie Shewmaker, JD, ACR director of congressional affairs. The crisis has highlighted the precarious financial state of cognitive care specialists who treat complex conditions. Ms. Shewmaker stresses, “Practices and providers are needed more than ever, and we must ensure they can keep their doors open to serve patients.”