A Message from Shari Erickson, (ACP Senior Vice President, Governmental Affairs and Public Policy) and Shuan Tomlinson, (Senior Analyst for State Health Policy and Grassroots Policy)
Published: March 4, 2022
We are looking forward to welcoming chapters back to Washington, D.C. this year for our flagship two-day advocacy event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on May 17-18. While the pandemic has kept us from congregating for the last two years in our nation’s capital, we hope you will join us for an exciting program in this important election year. As you prepare your chapter delegations for this event, we would like to highlight key aspects of our planning efforts that will necessitate some important changes to the program this year. We also want to ensure the health and safety of all members participating in the event so, while circumstances may change, ACP will be requiring proof of COVID vaccination, the hotel will have public health protocols in place for all guests, and we will follow all federal and local public health guidelines in place at the time of the event.
Please take the time to carefully read the following so you know what to expect, and also consult these FAQs, where you can register for the event and make hotel reservations. Key updates will also be posted on the Leadership Day webpage.
The tentative program agenda has been posted on ACP Services’ website. It includes the typical educational briefings, panel sessions, awards program, and receptions on day one, with day two dedicated primarily to Hill visits with lawmakers and their staff. Due to evolving circumstances surrounding the current public health emergency and enhanced security protocols on Capitol Hill, congressional meetings will be scheduled for chapters by ACP National, but the format of those meetings will be dictated by each congressional office as either in-person or virtual, with a maximum of five chapter members allowed in any in-person meeting in the U.S. House and nine in any U.S. Senate meeting. As a result, chapters should expect a mix of both in-person and virtual meetings. Our scheduler will make every effort to choregraph chapter meeting schedules so members can adequately adjust to needing to be physically on Capitol Hill for a meeting versus in a quiet location elsewhere to take a meeting virtually. Current security protocols will not allow us to have a reserved hospitality room where members can congregate on Capitol Hill in-between in-person meetings, and members will not be allowed to roam the halls of congressional office buildings; however, ACP will have space available for members to take virtual meetings, either at the Mandarin Hotel or in ACP’s office building, both of which are in close proximity to congressional offices. Please review these FAQs for more details about navigating security protocols on Capitol Hill.
ACP’s Priorities in the 2022 Election Year
In consultation with its policy committees, ACP has identified its key legislative priorities for the year, building on our successes last year, and weighed against what is viable in the current legislative environment. Being an election year, there are fewer legislative days in the session, which means that Congress does not advance as much legislation. As we prepare to advocate during Leadership Day, we will take advantage of opportunities to advance our priorities as part of “packaged” legislation that is likely to move this year, such as through must-pass fiscal year appropriations, and the reauthorization of prescription drug user fee agreements, among others. The Build Back Better Act (BBA), which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate, includes several ACP priorities, including extension of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to buy marketplace plans that will otherwise expire at the end of the year, paid federal family and medical leave benefits, and funding of programs to mitigate the health risks of climate change. While the version passed by the House will not pass the Senate due to uniform GOP opposition and less than majority support from Senate Democrats to enact through reconciliation, ACP remains hopeful that some provisions could be passed in a pared back bill or bills. Many of ACP’s priorities, as outlined below, do enjoy bipartisan support like the need to extend critical telehealth flexibilities beyond the public health emergency, addressing the mental and behavioral health crisis, funding public health initiatives, and increasing transparency in prescription drug pricing. While that gives us reason to be optimistic in our advocacy efforts, we also face the ongoing challenges associated with a government and nation that are deeply divided, a pandemic that has yet to relinquish its grip on the global population, and a nation’s capital that is still reeling from the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The crisis created by the Russian attack on Ukraine will also understandably and appropriately draw Congress’s attention and time away from domestic issues, as will the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice (which may occur before Leadership Day). Those challenges will not deter us but can serve to embolden us, and we have tried to tee up a slate of policy priorities that offer the best chance of movement and success in this election year, including:
- Telehealth: Ensure that telehealth flexibilities put in place during the public health emergency are extended and expanded in the most appropriate manner beyond the pandemic
- Payment and Delivery System Reforms: Halt harmful Medicare physician payment cuts scheduled to take effect in 2023 as a result of complex budget rules and systemic flaws to the underlying Medicare fee schedule
- Public Health and Pandemic Preparedness: Support funding for federal agencies/initiatives that invest in public health research and pandemic preparedness, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, gun violence research
- Mental and Behavioral Health: Support efforts to address the mental and behavioral health crisis among clinicians and patients, including improving the integration of such services into the primary care setting
- Physician Workforce: Invest in federal workforce programs that expand the primary care physician workforce, such as the Title VII Health Professions Program, Graduate Medical Education, and loan deferment initiatives
- Social Justice Reforms: Advance social reforms that contribute to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society like instituting federal paid family and medical leave benefits and eliminate disparities that can serve as barriers to accessing health care
- Women’s Health: Oppose any efforts to interfere with the physician-patient relationship and create barriers to accessing evidence-based care that could occur if women’s reproductive rights under Roe v. Wade are overturned or limited by an upcoming Supreme Court ruling and ensure continued access to federally sponsored women’s health programs, including Title X, a grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services
- Prescription Drugs: Increase transparency and enact other measures to lower excessive prescription drug prices, and curb practices, including misuse of step therapy, that inhibit access to affordable treatments and medications
- Climate Change and Health: Urge lawmakers to authorize and fund climate change mitigation initiatives that will improve public health and lend themselves to a more sustainable environment
The Role of Chapters and ACP Members
The involvement of our chapters and our ACP Advocates is a vital component to the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts, and that includes your participation in Leadership Day. This event is our most critical advocacy event of the year, providing you the opportunity to learn about and advocate for ACP’s health care priorities, have valuable time with members of Congress, and most importantly provide the clinician perspective on how policies being contemplated by Congress impact your patients. Your voice and your involvement, as constituents, in the legislative process can make all the difference in whether your lawmakers support or oppose a given policy reform. As always, we appreciate the time that you take away from your practice, your patients, and your family to advocate with us for the greater good.