ACEP Members Needed to Contact Congress About Health Care Reform

ACEP News
September 22, 2009
 

By Jeanne Slade
ACEP Director, NEMPAC and Grassroots Advocacy
 

The health care reform debate in Congress is reaching a critical stage as the Senate Finance Committee begins its long awaited markup of health system reform legislation today. 

In the House, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has tentatively scheduled a markup of the pending amendments to his committee’s version of health reform legislation for Wednesday, Sept. 23. That bill will eventually be combined with three other versions of the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" (H.R. 3200) by the U.S. House Committee on Rules into a single bill that will be considered on the House floor.

ACEP members have the opportunity to weigh in now both in a broad campaign designed to influence all major stakeholders in the debate, and through a more targeted effort to encourage specific provisions in the Senate Finance Committee’s legislation.

Action Item #1
ACEP Myths and Realities Campaign 

This week, ACEP launched an unprecedented national campaign to debunk some of the key myths about emergency care that have been perpetuated during the current federal health care reform debate, outline some of the critical problems plaguing our emergency care system, and propose some solutions to these problems that should be included as components of health care reform legislation.   

This project will be the most extensive direct communication ACEP has ever undertaken and encompasses paid advertising in key publications and Web media (including full-page ads in USA Today, Roll Call, Politico), direct mail, an aggressive viral e-mail campaign, a micro Web site, an substantial internal communications to engage ACEP members and chapters.

This campaign began last Friday when ACEP sent an Open Letter from America’s Emergency Physicians, signed by ACEP President Nicholas Jouriles, MD, FACEP, to a target audience of stakeholders and decision makers in the health care reform debate at the national and state levels and to all ACEP members. The letter is concise and focuses on the major mischaracterizations of emergency care and proposes specific solutions in a call to action.

We need your help today to directly communicate this message to your members of Congress and their staff.  Please CLICK HERE to send your message to Congress regarding the ACEP Myths and Realities Campaign.

With your help, this campaign will be very effective in helping to change key stakeholders, legislators and public understanding and support for emergency medicine in the health care reform debate. CLICK HERE to spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues.

Action Item #2
If you live or practice in one of the following states, your Senator is a member of the Finance Committee and we need to your help today to reach out to him or her:  AR, AZ, DE, FL, IA, ID, KS, KY, MA, ME, MI, MT, ND, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OR, TX, UT, WA, WV, WY. 

The health care reform debate has entered its most critical stage as the Senate Finance Committee began today what is expected to be a lengthy process of debating and marking-up a revised version of Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus’ (D-MT) draft health reform bill. Sen. Baucus spent Monday adjusting the bill to address many of the concerns and issues that his committee's members had raised last week upon his unveiling of the first draft.

More than 500 amendments have been proposed to the draft bill and may be offered most likely beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 23. 

Of the 500, 6 are of particular interest to ACEP and emergency medicine: 

  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow Amendment D-6
    • Title I – Establishes a commission (from ACEP’s bill, S. 468) that would identify factors affecting the delivery of emergency care and make specific recommendations to Congress within 18 months.
    • Title III – Directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to convene a work group of experts to develop boarding and diversion standards for hospitals.  A detailed recommendation would follow a year after the group first meets (also from ACEP’s bill, S. 468).
  • Sen. Debbbie Stabenow Amendment D-7
    • Amendment provides a 5% Medicare reimbursement bonus for services provided by an emergency physician or by an on-call specialist in Fiscal Years 2010-2015.
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow Amendment D-8
    • Amendment eliminates the payment reduction for emergency room physicians and for services provided by on-call specialists in an emergency room that the Chairman’s Mark identifies as an offset for the primary care/general surgery bonus.
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell Amendment D-2
    • Directs HHS Secretary to establish a loan program that would enable hospitals starting new osteopathic or allopathic residency programs in one of eight specialties (emergency medicine is one of the eight) to secure start-up funding
  • Sen. Olympia Snowe Amendment 1, IMD Demonstration
    • Amendment establishes a three-year $75 million demonstration project that would allow Medicaid funding to be directed to non-publicly owned and operated psychiatric hospitals for Medicaid beneficiaries who require stabilization as required by EMTALA
  • Sen. Jon Kyl amendment C-24
    • Amendment would regulate lawsuits for health care liability claims related to the provision of services provided in the emergency room. 
      • Limit non-economic damages to $250K, not to exceed $500K
      • Prescribe qualifications for expert witnesses

We have a limited window to reach out to the Members of the Senate Finance Committee to urge their support of these 6 amendments.   

CLICK HERE  to send an email to your U.S. Senator if he or she is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, to urge his/her support of the amendments. 

Please note:  You will not be able to send an e-mail through ACEP’s Contact Congress system if your address is not in one of the above listed states. 

If you have immediate questions or concerns, please contact Brad Gruehn at bgruehn@acep.org or Jeanne Slade at jslade@acep.org in the ACEP Washington DC office.

 

 

 

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