Advocacy in Plastic Surgery with Dr. Lynn Damitz

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  • Tell us a little about your background and how you got involved with advocacy? 
  • What is the role of the Legislative Advocacy Committee? 
  • Why is the PlastyPAC important?  
  • How does the board decide who to donate to? 
  • We recently had a Legislative Conference in DC where we had the opportunity to meet with several physician members of congress. Let’s briefly discuss some of the issues that we advocated for at the conference: 
    • ELSA (Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act)- bill would require all health plans to cover medically necessary services to treat congenital anomalies or birth defects 
      • Problem- while most states require insurers to provide coverage for congenital anomalies, health plans routinely deny claims for any oral or dental related procedures such as those that are needed in cleft care under the pretense that it is merely cosmetic. This bill would ensure timely access to all aspects of care for children with congenital anomalies  
      • Passed the House of Representatives in April 2022, now needs to pass in the Senate 
    • Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act- bill would increase transparency, strengthen accountability, and reduce the burdens of prior authorization for Medicare beneficiaries by establishing an electronic prior authorization process and minimizing the use of prior auth for services that are routinely approved 
    • Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act- aim to increase the number of Medicare-supported GME primary care and specialty care slots by 14,000 over the next 7 years. There is a growing physician shortage with 50% of this shortage coming from specialty physicians. Additionally, even graduates from US medical schools are going unmatched. Although there was a small increase of 1,000 spots last year, this isn’t nearly enough to support the future demand for physicians 
    • No Surprises Act- maintain oversight of the regulatory process for implementation to ensure a fair balance between providers and insurers.  
      • The law establishes a process for Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR), and we are asking that all IDR criteria should be weighted equally as opposed to the median-in-network rate being disproportionately weighted which would favor the insurance carriers 
    • Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act- oppose the bill that would allow for NPs and PAs to independently diagnose, prescribe, and treat federal employees for workplace injuries or illnesses without physician involvement 
      • We frame scope of care legislation as a patient safety issue given that NPs and PAs lack the extent of training that physicians receive in medical school and residency. This type of legislation is typically a state issue that is argued by providing examples of how lack of physician oversight leads to poor patient outcomes 
    • Fair Physician Reimbursement- we asked Congress to stabilize Medicare physician payments in 2023 and beyond and to hold physicians harmless from upcoming Medicare cuts which could result in plastic surgeons facing cuts of up to 6%. The problem is that physicians are already facing financial strain due to COVID-19 and will ultimately not be able to accept Medicare, which would further limit patients’ access to care 
  • How can residents get involved in advocacy? (Hannah) 
    • It’s critical that residents are involved because we are advocating for issues that will affect our future practices and the future of medicine. While some of the topics may seem abstract as residents, scope of practice legislation, physician reimbursements, and insurance coverage will shape the practice of plastic surgery in coming years. It’s important for us to have a voice on the Hill because if we’re not there, no one else will speak for us.   
    • Join the LAC 
    • Donate to PlastyPAC ($25 to join as Resident member)- speaker series throughout the year, annual reception at PSTM 
    • Get involved locally 
    • Go to the annual Fly-in in Washington, scholarships available 
    • Apply to be PlastyPAC resident ambassador  
  • What issues do you anticipate will become or remain ASPS’ top advocacy priorities over the next 5 years? 
  • Do you have any final advice for our listeners on how to get involved in advocacy?  

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