2021 Advocacy Summit Makes Major Strides in New Format
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual ASPS Advocacy Summit was held in a virtual format for the first time this year. From May 19-26, 97 physicians participated in a week of action focused on legislative and regulatory issues impacting the practice of plastic surgery, including Congressional meetings, speakers from Capitol Hill and beyond and physician panels.
Perhaps the most critical component of the ASPS Advocacy Summit is the attendees' meetings with elected officials. During this year's event, surgeons participated in 57 meetings with members of Congress and their staff during the Virtual Hill Day on May 26 to discuss the Society's federal priorities, including relief from impending Medicare cuts; the imperative to implement balance billing according to the letter of the law; the need to fund more graduate medical education slots; opportunities to increase federal rules for transparent advertising; and the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act.
Future Leaders Forum
This year's Summit saw a record-breaking 35 residents and fellows in attendance. These physicians had an opportunity to learn more about advocacy and help define future plastic surgery issues during the Future Leaders Forum on May 23.
The Forum's Keynote Speaker, Congresswoman Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA), discussed the importance of advancement and engagement in all levels of policymaking – legislative, regulatory, health system and organized medicine – and the importance of maintaining a firm foot in the practice of medicine in order to be an effective advocate.
In an address titled, "Advice from the Future: A Conversation with ASPS Presidents on Advocacy and Leadership," attendees heard from past ASPS presidents Scot Glasberg, MD, FACS; Lynn Jeffers, MD, MBA, FACS; and Robert Murphy Jr., MD, MS, CPE, FACS. The panelists discussed how deep involvement in ASPS advocacy efforts can make a significant impact on the specialty, as well as how active engagement in the Society's advocacy efforts can provide an opportunity for meaningful input and involvement in the policymaking and direction of the organization.
Attendees also heard perspectives from their peers when PlastyPAC's Resident Ambassadors, David Hill, MD and Benjamin Schultz, MD, delivered a presentation discussing the importance of advocacy and its role in surgeons' professional responsibility to the specialty. Drs. Hill and Schultz shared recommendations for getting directly involved in advocacy via ASPS Fly-In events, physician grassroots, committee participation and other ASPS advocacy activities.
ASPS Director of Advocacy & Government Relations, Patrick Hermes, closed out the event by hosting a strategy session focused on identifying future opportunities and needs for the practice. Specifically, attendees were asked to identify potentialities related to healthcare delivery systems, payment sources and new horizons in plastic surgery over a 20-year time horizon and "make an intellectual down payment on a strategy to control the specialty's destiny."
The 2021 event featured a diverse lineup of dynamic speakers. Attendees heard from physician members of Congress – Representatives Ami Bera, MD (D-CA); Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN); and Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA) – throughout the week on the importance of physicians getting involved in local and federal advocacy efforts. Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, discussed the current political landscape in Washington, DC and provided insight into the Biden Administration and what to expect from a Democratically-controlled Congress. Joseph Antos, the American Enterprise Institute's Wilson H. Taylor Scholar, presented on, "How Changes to the ACA, a Public Option, or a Single-Payer System Could Impact Plastic Surgery."
The bottom line
One of the fundamental purposes of the Society's advocacy efforts is to protect and enhance the bottom line of its members. This purpose came clearly into focus during a panel discussion with ASPS Advocacy Leaders Drs. Keith Blechman, Warren Ellsworth IV and Ash Patel, centered on how ASPS's advocacy efforts protect the bottom line for all plastic surgeons. ASPS Advocacy Leaders provided examples and practical applications to emphasize the importance of an active and engaged advocacy program to surgeon's livelihoods and the financial viability of their practices. The physician panelists represent three distinct practice models – solo private, employed small group and academic – and shared the direct ways that ASPS work benefits individual plastic surgeons, regardless of where and how they practice.