An Easy and Empowering New Year’s Resolution

Leah Ralph
Director of Health Policy, ACCC
New Year’s resolutions are the very definition of trope: a common or overused theme. But they do not have to be. Today I am asking you to set aside the old standbys of weight loss or more exercise and to look at the bigger picture-specifically, what you can do to improve the lives of the patients with cancer whom you treat each and every day. Last year, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) mobilized members from 23 states and held more than 80 meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill about issues of importance to the oncology community. We effected real change. Shortly after our ACCC Hill Day visits, Congress passed a permanent repeal to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, guaranteeing predictable physician payment rates and setting in motion a wave of Medicare reimbursement reforms. Our voices made a difference. This year, we are growing our annual Capitol Hill Day program and making some exciting changes, including more comprehensive training, more face time with legislators, and, most important, a focus on helping you tell your community’s story—the story that your legislators most want to hear. What is going on in your hometown? What is keeping you up at night? What are the stressors that are having a negative impact on your patients with cancer? So whether you have attended a previous ACCC Capitol Hill Day or you are an “advocacy newbie,” here are 3 solid reasons to make attending the ACCC 2016 Capitol Hill Day your New Year’s resolution: 1. More comprehensive training. The ACCC policy team will host webinars and conference calls to prepare for your congressional meetings. We will host a comprehensive training and reception on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, and an additional advocacy review on the morning of Hill Day, Wednesday, March 2 2. More face time with legislators. Gather for lunch with your ACCC colleagues and congressional members to discuss key issues that impact your program, such as reimbursement for supportive care services, drug costs, staffing shortages, and how excessive data collection and reporting is cutting into the time you can spend on direct patient care 3. Less focus on specific bill numbers. You do not need to be a “policy expert” or be familiar with specific legislation in 2016 to participate in the ACCC Hill Day. It is a chance to share your story so that lawmakers understand how policy impacts oncology care in your community. (If you want bill numbers, we will have those too.) Policymakers rely on healthcare providers, not policy staff, to provide real-world perspectives on policy issues that matter. As the leading national multisite, multidisciplinary organization, ACCC is uniquely positioned to serve as a resource. This is our value for legislators. The diversity and sophistication of our membership requires a nuanced, balanced approach to policy challenges, and we stand ready to offer insights on how cancer care is delivered today. As our experts, we invite you to come to Washington, DC, to do what you do best: talk about your programs, your processes, and, most important, your patients. Our annual Capitol Hill Day is an important and rewarding opportunity to advocate for policy change. Resolve to attend ACCC Capitol Hill Day 2016, and help to put the voices of the cancer care team and the patient with cancer at the center of policy decisions. For more information, visit accc-cancer.org/HillDay.

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