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President's Update: May/June 2017

Posted By Chet Seward, Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Colorado sent its largest delegation of ophthalmologists to the nation’s capital April 2017 to attend the AAO Congressional Advocacy Day & Mid-Year Forum. This “fly-in” is the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s signature federal advocacy event. While emails to Congress are appreciated, there is nothing as powerful as when physicians give up a day of their practice to perform face-to-face advocacy. (See all of the photos from our trip here.) Physicians are the subject matter experts on medicine, but have greater impact upon legislation when we can tell our own stories of practicing medicine under the ACA, MACRA and MIPS.

Multiple generations of actively practicing ophthalmologists bore witness before our Congressional representatives. The more experienced doctors were delighted with how those attending for their first time learned the craft. The younger physicians spoke to their future careers in medicine caring for an ever-aging population with chronic eye diseases. Recognizing the need to develop the next generation of ophthalmology leaders to be effective leaders, a cohort called the Advocacy Ambassadors was brought to Washington, DC. Both CSEPS and the University of Colorado sponsored an ophthalmology resident to be part of the Colorado delegation. This program has been very successful on many levels and will continue to thrive.

Members of the Colorado MYF delegation. From top left back row: Drs. Leo Seibold, Prem Subramarian, Lacey Echalier, Ron Pelton, Niranjan Manoharan, Peter Hovland, Front row left: Drs. David Johnson, Rebecca Braverman, Robert Fante and me.

Not only were all the ophthalmic specialties represented, but also academic and private practices were present. The breadth and depth of clinical experience at the table were CSEPS’ strength. All our challenges with insurance networks, pre-authorization, timely drug access, EHR and reporting burdens, so well-known to us, are a small part of the discussion informing federal legislation – unless there is very strong representation by the grassroots ophthalmologists. Several hundred ophthalmologists descending upon The Hill on a single day provides great weight to assist AAO’s Washington team in leveraging ophthalmology’s position.

While not every Colorado ophthalmologist can sacrifice a day away from their practice to attend this annual event, there are ways to directly or indirectly support the effort to protect our field. The most important is to simply commit to being a dues-paying member of CSEPS every year. I also encourage you to contribute to EYEPAC and the CSEPS Small Donor Committee so that we have the necessary resources to make contributions to Colorado candidates that support our priorities. CSEPS defends ophthalmology interests at the state level, and simultaneously provides representation of Colorado at the national level in the AAO Council. Our Congressional members return to their districts throughout the year, and we would be happy to assist you with talking points when you meet with them.

In summary, the AAO Congressional Advocacy Day and Mid-Year Forum in 2017 was both very successful, and very enjoyable. Thank you, again, for your membership dues -- CSEPS will continue to support your practices and our patients’ interests at the state and federal level.

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