The year 2020 was one of firsts and of resilience. We had a plague of biblical proportions; civil unrest; fiery political and racial tensions; riots; polar vortices, where it was literally freezing in the Southwest; and, last but not least, the looming threat of Medicare cuts, limiting our patients’ access to care and fee cuts to all of our practices. All of this within the last year.
By and large, it seems vascular surgeons have weathered things quite well—testament to the human spirit and perseverance in the face of adversity. But, of course, this is not the time to sit back on our laurels for too long, as the reprieve in Medicare cuts is only for a year. With the rollout of the vaccines, things may be getting closer to normal by the fall.
Despite the adversity we have all faced, and the distressing current political climate, we feel that it is necessary to update you, the SVS membership, on the recent accomplishments of the Political Action Committee (PAC).
We are thrilled at the number of SVS members who gave to the PAC in 2020. We have nearly doubled our SVS membership participation in the SVS PAC. A total of 403 unique members (7% of the membership) donated to the PAC in the 2019–20 election cycle. With PAC donations and Voter Voice engagement, we helped to stop the 7% overall reduction in Medicare revenue to vascular surgery in 2021. The PAC was represented at nearly 10 regional society meetings. The annual SVS Membership Survey included five PAC Committee questions. We launched two outreach and solicitation campaigns—“Leading from the Front,” to protect the specialty, and “I am Responsible,” for protecting the specialty. The PAC Steering Committee submitted nine articles to Vascular Specialist in 2020
As we move onward in 2021, we at the SVS PAC have our work cut out for us. We will continue to tirelessly advocate on your behalf for the support of our patients as well as the best interest of the SVS membership. We will not sit idle.
As we all look forward to this “new year,” we want to let you know some of our goals and objectives: We want to continue to build upon the outstanding relationships we have forged with our elected officials who supported our legislative priorities.
We had great support for our virtual gatherings with lawmakers. These were intimate conversations with SVS members and members of Congress that helped to highlight many of the current problems our patients face and gave members a voice in the politics of medicine.
Some of our targeted legislative priorities for passage in 2021 and beyond include: holding providers harmless from cuts, physician wellness and raising awareness of peripheral arterial disease.
We want to achieve our goal of 20% SVS membership participation in the PAC during the 2021–2022 election cycle.
We want to show exactly where and how our PAC dollars are going to work. Our core working premise is that we typically give to politicians who have supported SVS issues, and are on committees or in leadership that work on healthcare policies.
To this end, we have devised a SVS PAC Political Scorecard that is now available on the SVS website. The scorecard highlights the PAC activities over the past year, the policies we support and the candidates and elected officials to whom we have donated.
Mark A. Mattos, MD, and Peter H. Connolly, MD, are co-chairs of the SVS PAC.