Since 2002, the SVS Political Action Committee (PAC) has been a vehicle for advocacy specifically for vascular surgeons. As the only voice geared for vascular surgeons in Washington, D.C., it plays an instrumental role in championing pressing concerns that matter to the wider vascular surgery community.
So what exactly does the SVS PAC do? And more importantly, why should you care?
SVS PAC plays an integral role as a liaison for vascular surgeons when communicating with lawmakers on the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and the House Energy and Commerce committees, as well as the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and House and Senate leadership.
Aside from advocacy with various congressional committees, SVS PAC also supports congressional candidates whose positions on healthcare policies are aligned with SVS and our members. SVS support for candidates who share our views is a critical tool for achieving SVS legislative and regulatory priorities.
The PAC achieves this through monetary donations for congressional candidates—both incumbents and challengers—on a bipartisan basis.
Using a scorecard system, the committee identified members of Congress serving on congressional committees with jurisdiction over healthcare issues to cultivate for future support.
Each candidate was then evaluated on whether he or she co-sponsored or supported key SVS legislative and regulatory priorities. Visit vsweb.org/PACChart to download the scorecard.
The following legislative efforts were taken into account in creating this scorecard, in order to hone efforts and support for politicians who advocate for patients and physicians alike:
- Co-sponsorship of Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2019 (HR 3107), legislation that reduces the burden and costs of prior authorization policies imposed by Medicare Advantage plans
- Co-sponsorship of Resident Physician Shortage Act (HR 1763/S 348), legislation addressing the doctor shortage by adding 15,000 additional Medicare-supported residency slots over five years
- Co-signing onto four separate congressional letters addressing the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and the payment cuts to vascular surgeons in 2019 and 2020
It is through these systematic and exhaustive methods that SVS PAC gets results. In 2018 alone, we saved over $100 million in vascular ultrasound reimbursements due to successful Society advocacy supported by the political action committee.
At no time has the SVS PAC been more relevant than at this juncture. In this election year, U.S. health legislation and payment models are at a precipice. In the coming months there are proposed Medicare payment cuts ranging from 7–10%.
As we all know too well, if these cuts pass, private insurance companies will follow suit, ultimately leading to decreased payment for vascular surgery services all across the country.
This will undoubtedly affect all of us, regardless of practice patterns, geography or years in practice. The SVS PAC stands as the single strongest advocate against these myopic and unfair payment cuts. It is a proponent, not only of the member vascular surgeons but also the specialty itself and the utility it provides in health systems across the country.
The time is now! Donate to the SVS PAC today. Please go to www.svspac.org to make a contribution and to fight these cuts.
Krishna Jain, MD, and Ali Irshad, MD, are members of the SVS PAC Steering Committee.