ASPS Regional Fly-Ins Return with a Bang
After a three-year hiatus to introduce and establish the ASPS Advocacy Summit, ASPS's Regional Fly-In program returned in February, with resounding success. Twenty-two ASPS members attended in person, and the social media impact of the event surpassed all other posts for the week from ASPS. Posts related to the event garnered more than 17,000 views and hundreds of interactions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Fly-in attendees' primary objective in Washington was meeting with their members of Congress and advocating on timely, impactful legislation. In these meetings, the focus was largely on legislation granting adequate coverage for patients suffering from congenital anomalies, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), and the ongoing debate in Congress over how to address surprise out-of-network billing. ASPS fly-in attendees educated their members of Congress about the critical relationship between coverage and timely access to care for congenital anomalies and patients' healthy physical and emotional development. As a direct result of these meetings, ELSA gained commitments from several House offices that they could sign on as new sponsors.
ELSA is much needed legislation. While most initial procedures are covered by insurance, secondary and tertiary procedures are at times inappropriately deemed cosmetic. ELSA would require carriers to cover care based on provider discretion, and ASPS has made it a significant focus in the last two years, driving the addition of new sponsors that is so crucial to any bill moving through the legislative process. In fact, once a bill reaches a threshold of 290 co-sponsors in the House, it is eligible for a full vote on the House floor through a new "Consensus Calendar" process designed to expedite consideration of broadly popular measures. ELSA is zeroing in on that number, at 286 as of press time, and it looks like the Fly-in might put it over the threshold.
Fly-in attendees also lobbied for a fair solution to surprise billing, more federal funding for specialty graduate medical education, medical liability reform and an end to abusive insurer prior authorization practices in the Medicare Advantage program. Of these issues, surprise billing has been especially contentious in the House, and several committees have offered their own legislation to solve it.
In addition to speaking with members of Congress, attendees heard veteran journalist James Rosen give an exceptional talk on the status of politics, the effect of journalism on the political landscape and his predictions on the future direction and interplay of those forces. In between meetings on Capitol Hill, physicians met with Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS-01), also a physician, who is running in a contested Senate race in Kansas to replace Sen. Pat Roberts. Most estimates, including Cook Political Report, rate the race as Lean Republican. However, Rep. Marshall must first prevail through a crowded primary field to make it to the general election in the Fall.
The next Regional ASPS Regional Fly-In, covering members from Northeast and Midwest states, will take place on June 10-11.