ASPS's White Hat Issue sees movement at federal, state levels
The Society's federal white hat issue, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), is gaining momentum as Congress begins year two of the 116th Congress. Bolstered by a groundswell of over 260 House cosponsors and over 40 Senate cosponsors, the House bill was heard by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on January 8. Before that hearing, ASPS worked with the broad stakeholder coalition that has been securing cosponsorships to draft supporting testimony and other materials. The Society also submitted its own letter of support to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee and signed on to a coalition letter of support led by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
The work on the federal front continues in the wake of the hearing, as ASPS staff has conducted outreach to ASPS subject matter experts and the Legislative Advocacy Committee in order to identify research to provide to Sen. Tammy Baldwin's (D-WI), the original sponsor of the Senate version of ELSA. Her office is working to provide the Congressional Budget Office, which determines how much legislation will cost, with information on how private insurance coverage denials and delays in coverage for the treatment of congenital anomalies affect patients and government programs financially.
Like the federal movement on ELSA, one of the New York State Society of Plastic Surgeons' (NYSSPS) priority pieces of legislation was introduced on December 30, 2019. The bill, Give Kids a Chance - Carter's Law, mirrors ELSA and is the product of collaboration between ASPS and NYSSPS via the ASPS State Advocacy Grant Program. Serving as a model for how a state plastic surgery society can leverage $10,000 state advocacy grant from ASPS, NYSSPS used their funding in 2019 to put together a robust advocacy campaign that includes contracting with a public relations firm, creation of a website (1in38.org), and management of social media pages. Following the introduction of the legislation, NYSSPS and ASPS sent the sponsor, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, a letter of support. NYSSPS has also been in contact with the New York Department of Financial Services to discuss a potential regulatory route to address this issue.
These encouraging developments in Congress and one of the largest U.S. states are indicative of the appetite for reform on this issue, and plastic surgery is part of the nucleus that is driving these measures toward their respective finish lines.