American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: May 20

ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC Activity during the 2021 Leadership & Advocacy Summit

The ACS Professional Association (ACSPA) political action committee (PAC), SurgeonsPAC, maintained a strong presence during this year's virtual Leadership & Advocacy Summit. SurgeonsPAC offered its first charitable match program, in which 20 percent of PAC funds raised will be donated to important charities, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Direct Relief, which address critical issues faced by our nation's health care professionals. Be on the lookout for final PAC fundraising and charitable donation totals in the next Bulletin Advocacy Brief.

In addition to giving back, SurgeonsPAC hosted an exclusive event for 2021 contributors featuring a longtime friend of the College,  Phil Roe, MD. Dr. Roe, a former congressman representing Tennessee's 1st District, shared anecdotes of his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, including his work on several ACS-supported priorities, and entertained attendees with several guitar solos. 

To learn more about SurgeonsPAC fundraising or disbursements, visit the SurgeonsPAC website (log in: facs.org username and password) or contact ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC staff at 202-672-1520 or surgeonspac@facs.org. For more information about the College's current legislative priorities or to take action, visit SurgeonsVoice.

Note

Contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Contributions are voluntary, and all members of ACSPA have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC from accepting contributions from foreign nations. By law, if your contributions are made using a personal check or credit card, ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC may only use your contribution to support candidates in federal elections. All corporate contributions to ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC will be used for educational and administrative fees of ACSPA and other activities permissible under federal law. Federal law requires ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC is a program of the ACSPA, which is exempt from federal income tax under section 501c (6) of the Internal Revenue Code.

ACS Sends Letter to Senate Committee on Workforce Shortages

In advance of a hearing on health care workforce shortages, the ACS sent a letter on May 20 to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security. The statement provides new data, as well as information about the importance of general surgeons in rural areas, and advocates for the creation of a general surgery workforce shortage area. Additionally, the letter argues that Congress cannot consider reforms to strengthen the health care workforce without also considering the disparities that exist in access to surgical care.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Members of Congress Ask for Full Funding for MISSION ZERO

Fiscal year 2021 requests for funding or appropriations requests are due to the Appropriations Committees in May and June. Often referred to as "appropriations season," members of the committee hear requests from organizations and legislators from other committees advocating for programs they support. In addition to the letters sent by the Trauma Coalition in February, Congressman Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX) and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) led a member sign-on letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Committee. Currently, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are leading a congressional sign on letter to Senator Appropriations Chairs. Both letters asked for $11.5 million to fund military-civilian partnerships.

MISSION ZERO takes the recommendations of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report to create a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant program to cover the administrative costs of embedding military trauma professionals in civilian trauma centers.

Ask your senators and representative to support funding for MISSION ZERO through SurgeonsVoice.

For more information on COT trauma priorities, visit the trauma advocacy page or contact Kristin McDonald, ACS Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.

ACS Endorses Legislation to Provide Liability Protections to Surgeons during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The ACS, through its work with the Health Coalition on Liability and Access (HCLA), again endorsed the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act (H.R. 3021), legislation which was introduced on May 18 by Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX).

The legislation states that a health care professional and his or her related health care entity are not liable for damages under any law for any harm caused while providing care services in the following circumstances:

  • The act or omission occurred during the declared COVID-19 public health emergency or within 60 days of termination of the emergency
  • The act or omission occurred while providing or arranging care
  • The services were within the provider's scope of licensure/certification, without regard as to whether the service fell within the usual scope of practice
  • The services were provided in good faith
  • Actions taken were based on direction or guidance from any Federal, State, or local official/department/agency, as well as those due to a lack of resources attributable to the declared emergency

Gross negligence and actions taken under the influence are excluded. For questions regarding H.R. 3021 or on liability issues, contact Kristin McDonald, Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.

Congressional Leaders Seek to Improve Prior Authorization in Medicare Advantage

On May 13, Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), introduced the Improving Seniors' Timely Access to Care Act, H.R. 3173. The legislation is based on a consensus statement on prior authorization reform adopted by leading national organizations representing physicians, medical groups, hospitals, pharmacists and health plans. H.R. 3173 would facilitate electronic prior authorization, improve transparency, and increase Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services oversight on how Medicare Advantage plans apply PA requirements. The ACS strongly supports this legislation and will continue to advocate for its passage and enactment.

Take Action

Urge your lawmakers to cosponsor the Improving Seniors Timely Access to Care Act!

For more information, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

House Advances Violence Intervention Program Legislation

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act, H.R. 1260. This ACS-supported legislation was introduced by Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).  H.R. 1260 would provide grant funding to create new hospital-based violence intervention programs, as well as expand current successful programs. It also requires research on best practices, which will play a critical role in documenting the success of these programs and will create a road map for hospitals to follow.

For more information, contact Kristin McDonald, ACS Manager of Legislative and Political Affairs, at kmcdonald@facs.org.

U.S. Senate Confirms HHS Deputy Secretary

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed Andrea Palm to serve as deputy secretary of the HHS by a vote of 61-37. Ms. Palm most recently led the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and previously served as HHS chief of staff and senior counselor to the secretary during the Obama administration. In her new position as the number two official at the Department, Ms. Palm will be responsible for managing HHS' daily operations and the development and approval of regulations issued by its agencies.

Legislation to Address General Surgery Shortages Introduced in U.S. Senate

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), reintroduced the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (S. 1593) on May 12. The bill would direct the Secretary of the HHS, via the Health Resources Services Administration, to study and define general surgery workforce shortage areas and collect data on the adequacy of access to surgical services. Additionally, the legislation would grant the HHS Secretary with the authority to designate general surgery shortage areas. Determining where patients lack access to surgical services and designating a formal surgical shortage area will provide HHS with a valuable new tool for increasing access to the full spectrum of high-quality health care services.

Take Action

Tell Your Senators to support the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act!

Read the ACS letter of support for this legislation. For more information on surgical workforce issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

ACS Provides Testimony to House Appropriations Committee

The ACS recently provided written testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies as the subcommittee plans for FY 2022 appropriations for the HHS. The College outlined several priorities, including $11.5 million for the MISSION ZERO program, increased funding for cancer prevention and research, CDC funding specifically for public health research into firearm morbidity and mortality, and removal of a ban that prevents HHS from evaluating a range of patient identification solutions.

Take Action

Visit SurgeonsVoice to ask your Congressional Representatives to support ACS funding requests.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org