What is Leadership Day?
At the American College of Physicians (ACP), we don’t just advocate for internists; we also advocate with them. That’s why we encourage your participation in advocacy campaigns at the local, grassroots level; provide support for activism on state health care policies; and invite members to join local ACP committees and chapters. One way for members to advocate with us is by participating in Leadership Day.
Leadership Day is the College’s annual two-day flagship advocacy event that brings 350-400 of its members to this nation’s capital from virtually all the 50 states, including the District of Columbia. The event is part of ACP’s overall advocacy platform in both the legislative and regulatory space and it enables members from across the country to bring our issues of concern directly to U.S. lawmakers. The event provides opportunities for ACP members to use their personal experiences in practice and in their lives to let members of Congress know why ACP’s policy priorities are important to internists. It is also an opportunity for ACP members and ACP chapter leaders and staff who are interested in public policy topics to learn more about how to advocate most effectively, and to incorporate those elements into their advocacy efforts on the state level.
How do ACP members benefit from Leadership Day?
In addition to meeting with legislators and their staff in Washington, DC, participants are provided with in-depth briefings from White House officials, Capitol Hill staffers, and members of Congress, all of whom are among the top health care decision makers; and from ACP staff, on how to persuasively present ACP’s advocacy agenda to legislators and their staffs.
Participants will also:
- Receive a comprehensive orientation on ACP’s top legislative priorities.
- Earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.
- Learn advocacy skills that can be utilized back home.
- Meet other internists who care about advocacy, including colleagues from their own state.
- Learn about policy issues that impact their profession and their ability to provide quality care.
- Get to know ACP leaders and staff, chapter and national.
- Socialize and have a great time!
Who can participate in Leadership Day and how does one register?
Leadership Day is open only to ACP members; those interested in attending are advised to first reach out to their ACP chapter governor as state chapters typically coordinate their member delegations to the event each year. Registration for Leadership Day is facilitated through a user-friendly online system that allows members to choose which event sessions they would like to attend. ACP will notify all members when registration becomes available, which is typically months preceding the event date. Interested members can also contact Shuan Tomlinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) in ACP’s Washington, DC office for information about Leadership Day or for any questions about the registration process.
How are Leadership Day priority issues determined?
ACP works for its members: our advocacy in a given year, and specifically for Leadership Day, is about advancing policy changes that will make a difference in their daily work, professional development, and their patients' health.
Leadership Day is not itself a policy-making event—as noted below, policy is developed through our policy committees, councils, Board of Governors, and ultimately, the Board of Regents. Leadership Day instead is about persuasively communicating approved College policy and priorities to members of Congress and their staff, with the goal of getting as many of them as possible to support legislation consistent with ACP’s policies and priorities.
Our specific advocacy agenda is determined early in each calendar year, through a rigorous internal process that informs the formation of specific priority issues for Leadership Day. Early in the year, ACP’s governmental affairs staff and management carefully assess numerous factors as advocacy priorities are formulated, including: 1) the legislative environment for that calendar year and which policy issues might be ripe for congressional consideration and action, 2) the extent to which ACP has sufficient policy to inform and justify a given advocacy position, 3) what advocacy priorities had been accomplished the prior year or need further attention in the current year, 4) whether or not ACP has the expertise or ability to effectively influence policy reform on a given issue, 5) the degree to which a given issue may have bipartisan support within Congress.
Staff then generates a set of broad priorities, in both the legislative and regulatory space; staff’s analysis and recommended priorities are then thoroughly reviewed by ACP’s policy committees and governance, and then finalized with their input and support. Those broad priorities then help guide the formation of specific advocacy priorities for Leadership Day that will serve as “asks” of lawmakers on a wide variety of different issues. The determining and drafting of those priority “asks” for Leadership Day are orchestrated, by necessity, on an abbreviated timeline based on congressional activity and developments in real-time and usually within weeks of the Leadership Day event. ACP strives to present Leadership Day priorities that are actionable by Congress, that represent the consensus views of its membership, have bipartisan appeal, and can advance real reform for the benefit of internal medicine.
How is ACP's public policy developed?
ACP has a rigorous internal process for developing our positions on issues across the health care spectrum. The policy development process at ACP is evidence-based, derived from its policy committees representing clinicians from diverse specialties, and ultimately approved by ACP’s governing bodies. The stance taken by ACP on legislation before Congress and proposals within the Administration are rooted in ACP policy and are not politically motivated.
What if a member participating in Leadership Day personally disagrees with one or more of the ACP’s policies selected for advocacy during the event?
With a diverse membership of more than 152,000 internal medicine physician specialists, and medical student members, we understand that not every member will agree with every aspect of ACP policy. Yet our policy development process, described above, ensures that the diversity of membership views are considered throughout the process.
While we strive to select issues for Leadership Day that can enjoy the broadest possible support from our members participating in the event, and from members of Congress of both political parties, there may be times when an issue is selected that an ACP member-participant disagrees with. In such situations, we do not expect that the participant will advocate for a position that they can’t support, but we do ask that they not advocate against ACP policy in their conversations with lawmakers and staff, since this would hurt ACP’s influence by signaling lack of unity among our membership. In such cases, we would encourage other members from their state to speak in support of ACP’s legislative “asks”. Members who disagree with ACP policy on a given issue can seek to have it changed through resolutions from their chapter to the Board of Governors; Leadership Day itself, since it is not a policy-making body or event, has no ability to change adopted ACP policies.
What happens if an issue ACP has selected for Leadership Day is one that may not be well-received by some members of Congress, because they disagree with ACP’s recommendations? Should it still be brought up in meetings with them?
Congress, regrettably, is highly partisan and polarized these days, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike often at odds, and with limited willingness by them to compromise and find common ground. Yet ACP has found that despite such disagreements, we have been successful in advancing our agenda with bipartisan support, on issues ranging from addressing the opioids epidemic, to funding primary care workforce programs, to reducing administrative tasks imposed on physicians and patients. We always seek to bring forward to Leadership Day a non-partisan agenda that will enjoy support across the political aisle.
Yet there will be times when an issue is so important to ACP, its members, and patients, that we are obligated to advocate for it during Leadership Day, even though it may be more, or less, well-received by some members of Congress depending on their own partisan identity and ideological orientation. In these and all cases, we make our arguments based on ACP policy, evidence, and the experiences of our members, not politics or partisanship. Even if we don’t persuade an individual lawmaker to support our policy on a given issue, we anticipate that we will find common ground on other issues on our Leadership Day agenda. While we hope that our Leadership Day participants will bring up each of our legislative “asks” in their meetings, we fully understand if they want to put more emphasis on issues that their own legislators may be amendable to; ACP staff will provide tips the day before the visits on how to handle such situations when they come up.
What is the role of ACP’s governance in the Leadership Day event?
ACP’s governance plays an important role in the success of Leadership Day in that they lead-by-example through their participation in the event, their role in opening the program itself, the mentorship they provide to young physicians and those in their own ACP chapters, and their unique role in elevating ACP’s profile to the outside world as spokes people for Leadership Day and as advocates themselves. ACP’s chapter governors also play a significant role in organizing their chapter delegation to the event and in helping promote and recruit new members toward advocacy. And, every single issue selected for advocacy at Leadership Day comes from policy that has been developed by and for ACP members through the policy process described above.
What is ACP’s top award for grassroots advocacy?
ACP’s top grassroots award is the Richard Neubauer Advocate for Internal Medicine Award, which is presented each year during Leadership Day to an outstanding ACP advocate. It is named after the late Dr. Richard Neubauer, MACP, who was a champion for advocacy both at the national level and in his own beloved state of Alaska. This award recognizes the Advocate for Internal Medicine Network member (AIMn) who has made the most exceptional contribution to advance ACP’s public policy agenda. More information is available on the website.
Does Leadership Day really make a difference?
Absolutely! During Leadership Day 2017, ACP advocated on 7 issues: reducing unnecessary administrative tasks on physicians; improving the care of patients with chronic illnesses; funding for workforce, medical and health services research, and public health initiatives; making Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding more effective; reducing prescription drug costs; promoting continued action to address the epidemic of opioid use; reforming our medical liability system; and protecting affordable coverage and consumer protections. Since then, we have scored major wins on getting legislation enacted by Congress to reduce barriers to chronic care; to fund workforce, research and public health; to expand and fund programs to address the opioids epidemic; and to ease administrative tasks associated with Medicare’s Quality Payment Program. We also helped persuade Congress to reject bills that would have undermined coverage and consumer protections. ACP-supported bills on prescription drug costs, medical liability reform, and GME continue to gain support and sponsors in Congress. While Leadership Day 2017 was just one important part of our ongoing advocacy with Congress, it surely helped us achieve these wins for internists and their patients!