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ACC Advocate

Promoting Strong Practices, Protecting Patient Access

Current Issue - September 18, 2014

Power in Numbers: This week, a record number of cardiovascular professionals (nearly 400, including approximately 100 Fellows in Training and 80 CV Team members) gathered in Washington, DC, for ACC's 2014 Legislative Conference. This year's conference centered on the many ways the ACC is leading the way in transforming care.

Hot Button Issues: Following an entertaining evening with political power couple Mary Matalin and James Carville, courtesy of ACC Political Action Committee (ACCPAC), attendees got up-to-speed on the hot button issues facing health care providers and the health care system as a whole. ACC President Patrick O'Gara, MD, FACC, along with ACC Vice President Richard Chazal, MD, FACC, and Michael Lauer, MD, FACC, director of cardiovascular science at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, came together to discuss the latest in cardiovascular innovation and research. ACC's Advocacy Team participated in a panel discussion focused on educating participants about likely health care priorities in Congress this year. Experts from across the cardiovascular spectrum shared their thoughts on everything from team-based care as the answer to the tsunami of chronic cardiac disease, to leadership development to the importance of advocacy. Conference participants also participated in a series of breakout sessions focused on state advocacy in action, Medicare implementation of appropriate use criteria, and how to effectively meet with members of Congress. Finally, Margaret Hamburg, MD, Food and Drug Administration commissioner, discussed the FDA's role in promoting health care quality and innovation, and Mark Miller, PhD, executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), provided MedPAC's perspective on opportunities to improve quality of care.

ACC in Action: On Tuesday, ACC members headed to Capitol Hill to meet directly with their legislators. In their meetings, ACC members shared examples of how the College is leading the transformation of care and urged Congress to work with the ACC to develop a quality driven health care system, ensure practice stability and secure the future of cardiovascular care. With a plethora of challenges facing health care providers, ACC members were able to provide first-hand perspectives of how decisions made in Washington impact practices and patients across the country. Hot topics on the Hill included Sustainable Growth Rate repeal, In-Office Ancillary Services Exception preservation, increased research and graduate medical education funding, incentivizing the use of clinical data registries and improving access for Medicaid children with complex medical problems. Take a look at the full set of messages that members took to congressional offices. While on the Hill, the ACC recognized two members of Congress for being health care champions. This year, the ACC President's Awards for Distinguished Public Service were given to Reps. Tom Price, MD, (R-GA) and Lois Capps (D-CA).

Connect With Congress All Year Long: Although Legislative Conference has come and gone, your ACC will continue working with Congress and other key stakeholders to develop a health care system that puts patients first and rewards cardiovascular professionals for their commitment to quality, evidence-based care. You can stay on top of advocacy activities and communicate with lawmakers throughout the year with the new ACC Advocacy Action mobile app available on iTunes or Google Play.

Check out Legislative Conference photos on ACC's Facebook page and video interviews from FITs on the Go.

Provider Perspectives on EHR Benefits and Interoperability: The Legislative Conference coincided with National Health IT Week and members were able to discuss both advantages of and barriers to electronic health record (EHR) adoption while in Washington. Over the last few years, the percentage of practices using EHRs and the number of cardiologists participating in the federal EHR Incentive Program has grown tremendously. With these developments, clinicians are recognizing some real benefits from their EHRs, however, according to a recent CardioSurve survey, much room for improvement still exists for this technology particularly in the areas of interoperability and closing gaps in treatment and care. Although adoption of EHRs across the U.S. has increased over the past 20 years, the physician perception of EHR interoperability hasn't been adequately exhibited. As part of National Health IT Week, the ACC interviewed four members to get their perspectives on interoperability and its benefits. Take a look at what they had to say on the ACC in Touch Blog.