POSTED: June 28th, 2019
POSTED IN: EPIC - The Official Newsletter of MOCEP, May/June 2019,
Written by: Manna Varghese, M4 – University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine; and Emily Wynia, MD – University of Missouri – Columbia School of Medicine Alumni (Current PGY1 Emergency Medicine resident at Henry Ford Hospital)
The 2019 ACEP Leadership & Advocacy Conference (LAC) in Washington D.C. was packed with educational sessions, and opportunities for residents and medical students to connect through sessions hosted by EMRA. Some of the highlights, prior to visiting our Congress members on the Hill, were the sessions that took place at the Leadership Summit. Dr. Brian Williams, MD, gave an impassioned speech on diversity and inclusion in medicine. He provided numerous examples of times he faced adversity and discrimination in the workplace, throughout each step of his training, and even today in his successful surgical practice. Following a standing ovation, the audience came away equipped with anecdotes and tools to bring back to their EDs and institute a more inclusive working environment. Another inspiring speech came from Dr. James G. Adams, MD, on the topic of “Bringing up Young Leaders.” His message provided confidence in our future residency programs and positivity that our EM education and training is the best out there.
Another highlight of LAC was advocating on behalf of our patients and fellow physicians on Capitol Hill. We focused on two main issues, expanding behavioral health resources for patients in the ED and surprise billing, which is currently a bipartisan issue of interest in Congress. We met with various congressional staff members, including Representative William Clay (Saint Louis), Representative Vicky Hartzler (Columbia), Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Josh Hawley.
These offices were supportive of our requests to provide increased funding for behavioral health resources in the ED as well as long-term connections to outpatient care. With regard to out-of-network and surprise billing, we focused on a few upcoming bills in the House and Senate, and explained why ACEP is in support of a “baseball-style” arbitration solution. This type of negotiation tactic was foreign to us prior to attending LAC, but we were glad to learn about the intricacies of the process and how it will benefit both patients and physicians. We emphasized that our top priority is for no patient to lose care or be placed in the middle of a battle between physicians and insurance companies. It was especially encouraging to see the determination from Senator Blunt’s office regarding the concerns of Missouri ER physicians. In addition to the predetermined LAC advocacy issues, Senator Blunt’s aide, Desiree Mowry, was interested in learning more about specific pressing issues for Missouri patients and also expressed a desire to visit our ERs to see how we practice from the ground.
LAC is an outstanding experience for EM-bound medical students interested in health policy. The relationships and memories formed over the busy days in meetings and on Capitol Hill have inspired us to remain involved in organized medicine and patient/physician advocacy. We are grateful to be recipients of the MOCEP LAC travel grant and look forward to continuing our relationship with MOCEP in the near future.