I just returned from attending DDW® in our nation’s capital. As usual, it was a great meeting – I learned about new cutting-edge procedures and exciting ther- apies for challenging diseases,
caught up with old friends, and networked with colleagues.
The highlight of the meeting,
without a doubt, however, was the
session sponsored by the AGA Government Affairs Committee titled
“Why Should Physicians Be Involved
in the Political Process? An Insider’s
View.” The session was chaired by
Dr. Peter Margolis, who also chairs
the committee. Washington, D.C.,
was the perfect venue for this topic,
which has an disproportionate influence on our profession, practice,
The first talk, “Moving Beyond the
Medicare SGR Payment Formula,”
was given by Bob Jasak from Hart
Health Strategies. The repeal of the
SGR [Sustainable Growth Rate for-mula] and replacement with MACRA
(Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) in April was a great
achievement and something that
AGA had been working on tirelessly
for many years.
The next step, moving to a val-
ue-based reimbursement, is a com-
plex process, all the details of which
are still in the process of being
worked out. Mr. Jasak gave a com-
prehensive overview of the legisla-
tion. An attorney with several years
of experience in the health care
policy arena, he provided valuable
insight on what he thinks the law
will mean for GI practices. The main
takeaways were the consolidation
of quality programs and how com-
pliance with these and other quality
measures will dramatically impact
reimbursement in the coming years.
The Honorable Phil Roe, a Republican representing Tennessee’s
1st House District, was the next
speaker. As a retired OB-GYN, Dr.
Roe brings a physician’s perspective
to Congress. Dr. Roe was extremely
engaging, knowledgeable, and forthright. He described his path through
politics to the U.S. House of Representatives from private practice.
Dr. Roe’s goals during this Congress include repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board
(IPAB) and making the implementation of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and
Related Health Problems (ICD- 10)
a smooth process. He believes both
can be achieved in a bipartisan fashion. The IPAB is an unelected body
with a broad mandate to achieve
savings in the Medicare program.
Dr. Roe discussed NIH funding,
veterans health care, and graduate
medical education funding in an
open and frank question-and-an-
He also expressed his strong support for colorectal cancer screening
and removing any barriers to colonoscopy (such as passing the Supporting Colorectal Examination and
Education Now or SCREEN Act) in
very personal terms; his wife unexpectedly and tragically died of colon
cancer earlier this year.
I came away from the session energized and inspired. This was the
first DDW®, as far as I am aware,
that was addressed by a sitting
member of Congress. As important
as the scientific breakthroughs described at DDW® are, the only way
they can be realized is if physicians
take the initiative and get involved
with the policy side of medicine.
There are numerous critical issues facing the GI community, as
discussed above. We need to ensure
that we have a seat at the table so
we can fight for our profession and
patients. This can be as simple as
reaching out to one’s representative
in the House or state legislatures.
We play a critical role in the lives
of their constituents (our patients)
and they will respond to these powerful stories.
I encourage all AGA members to
get involved in this process. n
[Dr. Roe] also expressed his strong support for colorectal cancer screening and
removing any barriers to colonoscopy (such as passing the Supporting Colorectal
Examination and Education Now or SCREEN Act) in very personal terms; his wife
unexpectedly and tragically died of colon cancer earlier this year.