Emergency Medicine Action Fund Announced
BY NANCY CALAWAY
ACEP News Staff Writer
With changes in the health care system already underway, a new initiative is looking to positively impact the regulations that will be written and implemented under this sweeping reform.
The Emergency Medicine Action Fund, launched by ACEP in February, will pool contributions from individual emergency physicians and groups, other emergency medicine organizations, and anyone else interested in advancing emergency care to provide financial support for advocacy activities in the regulatory arena.
"This is probably the most important, defining moment for emergency medicine in our lifetime," said ACEP President Dr. Sandra Schneider. "The decisions that are made now will set the course for us for years to come and we must positively influence the regulatory agenda. This Action Fund will help us do that and create a practice environment we can thrive in."
The Emergency Medicine Action Fund will pursue a regulatory agenda that supports emergency physicians and quality emergency care. For example, evolving practice models and demonstration projects, such as accountable care organizations and bundled payments, are two areas of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act where the Action Fund might be able to wield some influence.
"We need to be out there with the rule writers, working to ensure that emergency medicine's perspective is valued," said Dr. Angela Gardner, ACEP Past President, who first proposed a national grassroots initiative focused on federal regulatory affairs. "It is critical that we be involved in these decisions regarding the formation of the future of health care delivery. This is our opportunity to be part of it."
The following organizations have been invited to designate representatives to the initial Board of Governors - American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine (AACEM), American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP), Emergency Department Practice Management Association (EDPMA), Emergency Medicine Residents' Association (EMRA), and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).
One of the unique features of the Emergency Medicine Action Fund is that individuals and groups can band together to form coalitions that would be eligible to have a seat on the Board of Governors. The first 10 groups of contributors at $100,000 will be granted seats on the Action Fund's Board of Governors.
"We are encouraging chapters and small to mid-sized groups to combine their resources," Dr. Schneider said. "This is intended to be an inclusive effort, and everyone's contributions are needed."
The Emergency Medicine Action Fund is modeled on a successful initiative sponsored by CAL/ACEP, CAL/AAEM, EDPMA, and rural emergency physicians in California that has raised several million dollars for state advocacy since 2004.
Wes Fields, chair of the California Emergency Medicine Advocacy Fund, said their program doubled the size of the CAL/ACEP advocacy staff, increased the number of lobbyists and consultants, and engaged in legal activities related to physician payment practices. He has been appointed by Dr. Schneider as the founding chair of the new national Action Fund.
"I view this as the best form of advocacy and free speech on behalf of emergency physicians and our patients," Dr. Fields said. "It is not partisan. It is not political.
"The rule writers and the policy makers will hear emergency medicine speaking with one voice, with one set of goals, one approach," he added. "We need wide and deep support, even from those who are not members of the College."
CEP America, the nation's largest emergency medical partnership, will be the inaugural donor to the Action Fund, pledging $100,000.
Activities planned by the Emergency Medicine Action Fund are intended to enable participants to make contributions that would be tax-deductible business expenses (tax deductibility can be determined only by participants' tax advisers).
ACEP's National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee (NEMPAC) gives contributions to candidates who have listened to the needs of emergency medicine and made a positive change. However, NEMPAC may be used only to support candidates.
The Action Fund can enhance regulatory advocacy with policy makers to ensure emergency physicians receive fair payment for their services. It can also fund numerous meetings with regulators to help guarantee that patients receive the best care, and provide funding for studies to demonstrate the value of emergency medicine.
"With the new Congressional session upon us, it is as important as ever to be active on both the legislative and regulatory fronts," Dr. Schneider said. "We will depend on all of these funds to make our case. This will be the year we ask everyone to dig a little deeper. In these challenging times, we need contributions to both the Action Fund and NEMPAC."
Find out more about the Emergency Medicine Action Fund at www.acep.org/EMActionFund.