Dear ACG Colleagues and Friends,

On Thursday, 100 ACG leaders met with your House Representatives and Senators. Across more than 200 meetings, our tireless advocates expressed the continued challenges we face within gastroenterology, while highlighting key legislative opportunities that would benefit our patients and practices.

The highlight of the day was our annual luncheon, where seven Members of Congress offered a wide array of perspectives. Collectively, they addressed the relevance of physician advocacy on Capitol Hill and shared their personal experiences with cancer and the importance of preventive screenings. We are grateful to Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), an ACG Fellow and hepatologist, Rep. Mark Green, MD (R-TN), Rep. Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA), Rep. Andy Harris, MD (R-MD), Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) for their time.

Above all, the focus of the 2024 ACG Advocacy Day was reminding each Member of Congress that they are essential in supporting physicians and protecting patient access from the many harmful forces at play – from insurers and their burdensome utilization management requirements to ever-decreasing Medicare physician reimbursement. Our hope is the frustration we conveyed, as well as the legislative opportunities discussed, have laid the groundwork for meaningful progress.

This Year’s Key Messages and Legislative Requests:

Support the Safe Step Act (S.652 / H.R. 2630)

This popular, bipartisan bill has more co-sponsors than ever before and was also introduced in the Senate for the first time. It would require many employer-sponsored health plans to implement a clear and transparent process to request an exception to a step therapy protocol. On Thursday, legislators and their staff remained broadly supportive of the bill, and recently, it has been included in broader reform packages that Congress will consider later in 2024.

– Support the Reducing Medically Unnecessary Delays in Care Act (H.R. 5213)

This legislation would require all Medicare plans to have only medically-necessary prior authorization policies for both prescription drugs and services. It also requires all appeals and peer-to-peers be conducted by a doctor in the same specialty as the patient’s condition.

ACG’s New ‘Principles of Medicare Reform’

New for 2024, our advocates shared ACG’s principles that should guide any Medicare reform. We were grateful to have the opportunity to meet with staff for four members of the new Senate Medicare Payment Reform working group, as well as Finance Committee staff from both the House and Senate.

Champion efforts to require insurers correctly classify surveillance colonoscopy a a preventive service 

Building on recent interest, we reminded Congress that with colorectal cancer cases among young Americans increasing at a staggering rate, now is the time to act. We hope to have more advocacy opportunities for you on this issue soon.

As always, we are grateful to the College’s leadership, to ACG President Dr. Jonathan Leighton, to Dr. Louis Wilson, Chair of the our Legislative & Public Policy Council, as well as everyone who dedicated time and effort to the success of our 2024 Advocacy Day.

– Dr. Dayna S. Early & Dr. Sita Chokhavatia

Highlights from Lunch: Patient Advocacy – From Our Practice to the Halls of Congress

Clockwise, from top left: Rep. Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA); Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Rep. Mark Green, MD (R-TN); Dr. Sudha Pandit, Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), ACG Governor for Louisiana Dr. Neelima Reddy, and Dr. Catherine Hudson; Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA) and ACG Trustee Dr. James Hobley

“If you bring an issue, bring a solution! Your advocacy always matters and we can make the changes that are good for your patients, your practice, and most importantly our country.”
– Sen Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA)

“When I went to medical school, advocacy was not part of our education. But that was wrong – advocacy is an essential part of taking care of your patients.”
– Rep. Andy Harris, MD (R-MD)

“When that engine light comes on in our car, we respond. When our bodies send us a signal, we push through and think it’ll go away. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but sometimes the choir needs rehearsing, too.”
– Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA)

Social Media Highlights – #ACGAdvocacyDay2024