The 2015 AMA National Advocacy Conference (NAC) was held February 23-25, 2015 in Washington, DC. The AMA NAC provides leaders of the medical community from around the country the opportunity to gather and receive the latest information on various political and advocacy issues of interest to physicians and their patients.
Physicians representing the Oklahoma State Medical Association were President Todd Brockman, MD and President-elect Woody Jenkins, MD. Also in attendance from Oklahoma were Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, AMA Board of Trustees member; D. Robert McCaffree, MD, OSMA Past President, Jack Beller, MD, OSMA Past President and AMA Council on Legislation Member, Doug Folger, MD, 2015 President of the Oklahoma County Medical Society, OSMA Executive Director Ken King, and Associate Executive Director Kathy Musson.
Oklahoma attendees, along with OSMA Federal Lobbyist Michael Preston, made “House Calls” to the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation and had an opportunity to visit offices of all of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators and Representatives. The primary message to Congress by the physician group was to reiterate OSMA’s opposition to further short-term patches that have made Medicare physician payment cuts more severe and reform even more costly; and to ask Congress to permanently replace the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula with a new update formula based on medical practice cost increases.
During the visits, Sen. James Lankford told Oklahoma physicians that vehicles to repeal SGR and replace it with updated Medicare payment reform have moved through relevant committees of jurisdiction and they just need full congressional support to “get across the finish line.”
Other Oklahoma members and their healthcare staff indicated that there may be a short-term “patch” proposed to get physicians to Sept. 30 (the end of the Federal Fiscal Year), but that the long-term fix to the SGR is something they hope to complete this year. If a fix is not passed by Congress, this will be the 18th “patch” to the SGR since its inception.
The OSMA delegation also asked for support for the “Medicare Patient Empowerment Act” which would allow Medicare patients and their physicians to enter into private contracts without penalty to either party.
Oklahoma physicians also advocated for relief from onerous regulatory burdens, penalties, and programs, including fixing the Meaningful Use program; the challenges of using electronic health records; the troubling changes that will be brought on by the mandate to convert to ICD-10; and addressing problems with the RAC audit process.
OSMA’s complete Federal Legislative Agenda along with a contact list for the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation are posted in the links above. Additional information on OSMA’s federal legislative agenda is available by contacting Kathy Musson, OSMA Associate Executive Director at (800) 522-9452 or by e-mail to Musson@okmed.org.