American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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FEDERAL | Essentials of Leadership Heads to Capitol Hill

ASPS leaders come in many shapes and sizes. Some lead by chairing a committee. Others contribute to the Plastic Surgery Foundation or PlastyPAC. Many act as thought leaders and champion the benefits of membership. And a select few go to Capitol Hill each year and advocate for the specialty. In June, the ASPS Essentials of Leadership (EOL) program traveled to Washington DC to learn more about how government impacts medicine and how they can proactively influence their members of Congress to improve patient access to care.

Spearheaded by ASPS EOL Chair Lynn Jeffers, MD and Chair-elect Anu Bajaj, MD, the program is a valuable opportunity for the membership to become more engaged in the society and develop leadership skills that can assist them at home, work and ASPS. "As surgeons, we don't always receive an education in leadership tools — running a meeting, negotiation skills, advocacy skills — as part of our training in plastic surgery," Dr. Bajaj told PSN. "The EOL program is able to provide the first step in developing tools that are critical as we serve as leaders of our practices, in the ORs, and in our communities — not only at ASPS."

After two very engaging sessions at ASPS headquarters and at the Winter Board Meeting, the EOL completed their learning experience in Washington DC at the EOL Fly-In, where they learned more about ASPS's advocacy agenda and how to advance the specialty in the halls of Congress. The one-and-a-half-day program began with an introduction on the issues by Dr. Jeffers, during which MACRA implementation, ambulatory surgery center payment reform, and graduate medical education were reviewed. This was the first opportunity many members of the EOL had to dive into these issues, which created a robust discussion where members learned more about the federal policies that impact their practices.

Communications expert Pat Clark hosted a role playing seminar for attendees so that they could prepare for their forthcoming meetings with members of Congress. The role playing was intensive and reviewed a variety of scenarios that the attendees should expect in the congressional offices. EOL members took to the challenge and applied their new understanding of ASPS priorities, deftly navigating the variety of questions posed during the role playing session. By the end of the first day, EOL members were prepared to take to the Hill and advocate on behalf of ASPS.

On June 23, 20 members of the Essentials of Leadership program conducted 43 meetings with members of Congress from their home states. These meetings were crucial in voicing ASPS's concerns with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and urging Congress to take action to ensure that CMS is upholding congressional intent. Specifically, ASPS is very concerned that funds to support the development of quality measures have still not been released, that Medicare does not intend to share claims data with Qualified Clinical Data Registries and that CMS does not intend to take under advisement recommendations made by the newly created Physician-Focused Payment Technical Advisory Committee.

Change is unlikely to happen if Congress does not hear directly from their constituents about issues that impact them on a daily basis. Thanks to your colleagues in the Essentials of Leadership program, 43 members of Congress are now more informed on issues that impact you, your practice and your patients.

For more information on the ASPS Fly-In and other advocacy events, contact jfrasco@plasticsurgery.org.

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