Message from Bob Doherty and Shuan Tomlinson

Welcome to Leadership Day 2021, ACP’s annual advocacy event that enables the College to increase its presence on Capitol Hill and bring our issues of interest and concern to U.S. lawmakers.

For the first time ever, Leadership Day is being held virtually due to public health and safety reasons stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Even though Leadership Day is virtual this year, we still have an exciting two-day program and experience in store for you, including educational briefings from ACP staff on the key policies you will be discussing with lawmakers as well as advocacy tips on how to present ACP’s priority issues to your members of Congress, an awards program, and virtual briefings from lawmakers. The second day of the event will be dedicated to virtual meetings with your lawmakers.  See agenda details here and some FAQs regarding event logistics.

ACP National will schedule ALL virtual congressional meetings for your chapter and connect participants with lawmakers via Zoom video/audio teleconference. We are not limiting attendance at this virtual Leadership Day, but we do have a limit of 400 Zoom lines for congressional meetings.  We hope to schedule as many meetings for your chapter as is logistically feasible within that limit.  For more information about the logistics of virtual meetings, how you will access your schedules and other resources, please view the ACP’s Virtual Congressional Meetings FAQs.  We highly recommend you review the FAQs.

Political Climate and Other Issues in 2021

This year, we face a different political landscape under a new Democratic Biden Administration as well as a new Democratic majority in both the House and Senate, although with very slim margins in both chambers. The 117th Congress, which began in January, has 71 new freshman members.  Women make up just over a quarter of all members of the 117th Congress – the highest percentage in U.S. history and a considerable increase from where things stood even a decade ago.  Counting both the House of Representatives and the Senate, 144 of 539 seats – or 27 percent – are held by women. That represents a 50 percent increase from the 96 women who were serving in the 112th Congress a decade ago.  At least 76 (14 percent) of the voting members of the 117th Congress are foreign born or have at least one parent born in another country, a slight uptick from the prior two Congresses.  About a quarter of voting members (23 percent) of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are racial or ethnic minorities, making the 117th Congress the most racially and ethnically diverse in history. 

These changes in the political landscape represent new opportunities for ACP’s advocacy agenda, but realistically most legislation will still need bipartisan support in Congress with just a one vote margin favoring the Democrats in the Senate.  We remain optimistic that many of ACP’s priorities will see daylight with both parties especially on issues such as COVID relief for patients, expanding telehealth, reducing prescription drug costs, social justice reforms, and ensuring an adequate primary care physician workforce.  Other priorities will prove more challenging to advance in this environment, such as passing initiatives to curb firearms-related violence or advancing legislation to mitigate climate change.

Key Priority Issues for Leadership Day:

While it is not expected that Leadership Day participants will bring up each and every one of the following ACP legislative priorities during your virtual meetings with lawmakers, we believe you should be prepared to speak on the following priorities, as appropriate based on the circumstances of each meeting:

  • Support the Value of Primary and Comprehensive Care: Preserve and protect the 2021 increases in relative values and payments for long undervalued E/M services and ensure that any budget neutrality relief is applied equally to all physician services; extend the five percent bonus that physicians receive if they meet performance expectations in advanced APMs; ensure payment parity for primary care services under Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Improve Access to Telehealth: Remove arbitrary geographic restrictions which inhibit access to telehealth services and provide temporary licensing reciprocity for telehealth and interstate health care treatment.  
  • Expand Health Coverage:  Provide incentives to states to help them expand their Medicaid programs and fully subsidize the health coverage of people earning up to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) under the Affordable Care Act on a permanent basis.
  • Fund Public Health Research/Infrastructure and Promote Firearms Safety: Ensure necessary funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and research on prevention of firearms-related Injuries and deaths. Institute safeguards in law that prevent firearms from getting into the hands of those who have not undergone adequate background checks or are otherwise deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Support efforts to address climate change through tax credits for clean energy generation and storage, land and water conservation, and restoration of our nature-based infrastructure. 
  • Expand Access to Prescription Drugs and Reduce Costs: Address the high cost of prescription drugs through greater pricing transparency, giving the federal government the power to negotiate prescription drug prices under Medicare, and removing harmful step therapy protocols.
  • Train and Support Frontline Physicians during and after COVID-19: Support federal initiatives to increase the number of Graduate Medical Education slots, provide relief to frontline medical students and physicians through loan deferment and forgiveness initiatives, create pathways for international medical graduates to legally remain in this country to provide care, and implement measures to address physician well-being and behavioral health as they struggle on the frontlines during this pandemic.
  • Promote Health Equity, Social Justice, and Eliminate Disparities:  Implement reforms to address racial, ethnic, gender and COVID-related discrimination and support efforts to address social injustices in our communities and eliminate disparities that can serve as barriers to accessing health care. 

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.

ACP Services PAC Meet-and-Greet Event:  There will also be a meet-and-greet virtual event with members of Congress hosted by ACP Services PAC from 5:30 – 6:30pm ET on Tuesday (May 25).  This meet-and-greet event will be open to ACP Services PAC members only.

Leadership Day Registration – The Leadership Day online registration form is available on the Leadership Day webpage.  If you have not already registered, please do so as soon as possible.  The deadline to register is May 3rd.

For other information or questions about Leadership Day, please contact Shuan Tomlinson, Senior Analyst, State Health Policy & Grassroots at 1-800-338-2746, Ext. 4547 or by email at  

Chapter participation in both Leadership Day and the Advocates for Internal Medicine Network are critically important to the overall and ongoing success of ACP’s advocacy program.  Thank you for your chapter's support and we look forward to seeing you at virtual Leadership Day 2021.