Take it From Me — Politics Really Are Local
As part of the AGA’s Congressional Advocates Program, my colleague Barry Kisloff, MD, and I were invited to attend a meeting with our representative from the 18th district of Pennsylvania, Congressman Tim Murphy, R.
This was an outstanding experience and opportunity to help promote the best legislation possible that will enhance gastroenterology and the delivery of quality care to our patients. Our discussion with Rep. Murphy showed us that politics has its greatest impact at the community level and the responsibility for legislative effectiveness must reside, in part, with all gastroenterologists.
The debt ceiling deal will lead to further cuts to NIH funding. Physicians are facing a 30 percent cut to the SGR in January 2012, as well as potential cuts under the Independent Payment Advisory Board. These cuts should be a major concern to every gastroenterologist. It is more important than ever to become involved with the AGA Congressional Advocates Program.
Rep. Murphy is a child psychologist by profession and has been a strong supporter of medical research funding, health information technology and addressing physician workforce shortages. He has proposed that the government create a trust fund to give physicians credits for every patient that they convert to an electronic health record. Although he is a reliable Republican vote, he has shown a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner and supports public health policies that protect children.
We met Rep. Murphy at a coffee shop in Mount Lebanon and spoke with him and his aide for more than an hour. Rep. Murphy was terrific, demonstrating a keen understanding of the issues on the table. He had a long series of questions about subspecialty medicine and health care, electronic health records, and research. We also addressed the problems of the sustainable growth rate formula and Medicare physician reimbursement. Rep. Murphy continues to recognize the importance of eliminating this flawed means of determining physician reimbursement and the threat it represents to Medicare beneficiaries’ access in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Rep. Murphy and his staff plan to meet with us on a regular basis so AGA can have an active voice in health-care policy. It’s going to take all of us to get involved to really make a difference.
If you would like to become more involved in AGA’s grassroots advocacy activities, contact Lauren DePutter.