To borrow from the hit musical “Hamilton,” VAM 2023 takes place right near Washington, D.C., the seat of power, and “the room where it happens.” While the song refers to a particular room and a particular deal, “it,” can also refer to the art of the deal and the place where lawmakers make decisions that impact the country.
“Because of our Washington, D.C., location, advocacy and government relations have a much larger presence at this year’s VAM than is typical,” said Margaret C. Tracci, MD, vice chair (and soon chair) of the Society for Vascular Surgery’s Advocacy Council. The council oversees the work of four committees, including the Coding, Government Relations, Political Action Committee Steering and VA Vascular Surgeons committees.
“Fifty of us are going to the Hill (Capitol Hill) Tuesday to meet with lawmakers and staff. This is an incredible opportunity to drive home to legislators our issues with Medicare reimbursement, the extensive cuts our members have endured in the past several years and they will be facing going forward and the fact that the system is, essentially, broken,” she said. SVS members won’t just present problems but will also offer solutions to some of these issues, Tracci said.
SVS has been busy in the advocacy sphere recently, spearheading the introduction of H.R. 3674, the “Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act,” in collaboration with its Clinical Labor Coalition.
The legislation is designed to mitigate cuts to office-based specialists for a targeted group of services for two years, thereby helping to avoid significant disruptions in patient access to care while overall concerns regarding the future of Medicare physician payments are addressed.
SVS is partnering with prominent members of both the House Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means committees in introducing this critical legislation. “Using this bipartisan and dual-committee approach provides a strong foundation for the Society’s continued work to secure additional support for the bill and identify opportunities for advancement,” said Tracci.
The council asks SVS members to contact their lawmakers to urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 3674. The proposal will be a topic of conversation with lawmakers Tuesday, Tracci said.
VAM itself will feature two separate educational sessions highlighting the full breadth of SVS’ advocacy-related efforts: Member Perspectives on Advocacy—Myths, Facts and Reasons Why all SVS Members Should Engage, takes place from 12:30–1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, while Tracci will first present the Elements of Effective Advocacy, followed by Advocacy Council Chair Matthew Sideman, MD, providing a primer of sorts on SVS’ advocacy and policy priorities.
A panel discussion will follow. Using the Slido live Q&A platform, audience members will be able to ask questions and provide comments to the panel in real time, which could well revolve around the visit to Capitol Hill the previous day.
A Friday breakfast session, from 6:45–8 a.m., will give participants an overview on the foundations of SVS’ advocacy and policy work, SVS Advocacy in Action: Work Being Done, Issues on the Horizon and How to Become Involved.
Sean Lyden, MD, and Peter Connolly, MD, will moderate. Both are heavily involved in SVS advocacy and government relations activities.
Presentations will include Lyden discussing “Tell it to me straight: What does ‘Advocacy’ mean for SVS.”
Then Mounir Haurani, MD, will present “If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu: Why SVS Needs a Culture of Advocacy Engagement,” followed by payment reform with Tracci. Mark Mattos, MD, co-chair with Connolly of the SVS PAC Steering Committee will present “Advocacy Ways and Means: The Important of SVS PAC.”
Advocacy can include downtime as well! Anyone who has contributed to the SVS Political Action Committee may attend a casual PAC Steering Committee-sponsored reception from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the Harbor Social Restaurant, located in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.