MARCH 6, 2017 – Victor Faradji, MD
By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel
Neurology on the Hill Successes
The American Academy of Neurology’s 15th annual Neurology on the Hill set records again last week with 216 AAN members from 42 states meeting their members of Congress in Washington, DC. AAN advocates visited 272 congressional offices, created 2,072 tweets using #NOH17, generated 1.8 million social media impressions, and took lots of pictures of everyone with members of the House and Senate.
Once again, your colleagues were clad in AAN signature green bow ties and scarves that generated many conversations in congressional offices as well as in the halls and elevators about what our group was representing. The result is a significant increase in the profile of neurology to everyone on Capitol Hill.
The primary goal was to carry four messages to lawmakers:
- Congress should ensure that any changes to the Affordable Care Act are in alignment with the AAN’s Principles for Health Care Delivery
- Members of Congress should cosponsor the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act (S 431/HR 1148) that will allow Medicare to pay for stroke telemedicine consultations in urban and suburban areas.
- Congress should support full funding for the NIH including the BRAIN Initiative
- Congress should take steps to reduce drug prices that are impacting patients
Neurology on the Hill is a two-day event. Advocates go to Capitol Hill after receiving a full day of training on the issues and updates from key people in government. This year’s program included an update on the amazing work of the BRAIN Initiative by AAN member Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, FAAN, who serves as the director of the National Institute for of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). This really encouraged AAN advocates to let their congressional offices know of the benefits of this incredible program. Staff from the powerful House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, which has jurisdiction over many health care issues, gave an update on the FAST Act and encouraged us to cross the 218 cosponsor threshold, which represents a majority of the House. The AAN generated 172 cosponsors for the same legislation in the last Congress. Future Capitol Hill Reports will track our progress.
During NOH, the AAN’s federal political action committee, BrainPAC, collected $56,000 from more than 100 attendees. BrainPAC hosted a dinner for major donors Monday evening. This event featured a key-note address by E&C Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR), who discussed many of the major health care decisions being debated in Congress.
AAN members also were strongly encouraged to promote their efforts publicly on social media using the hashtag #NOH17. Doing so helps raise awareness of the event and the issues with policy makers, the public, and the AAN membership. By the end of the day, over 200 participants had generated nearly 500 tweets, reaching more than a million people, including patients, colleagues, friends, coworkers, family, and many of their associates, as well, as messages were forwarded and retweeted. Even seven legislators posted about their visits with the AAN members. They got to see a lot of enthusiasm and activism for neurology!
After the long day of walking the halls of Congress (I personally registered 14,243 steps), everyone was invited back to the AAN’s DC office for a reception to debrief and relax before heading back home. That is, all except Donn Dexter, MD, FAAN, of Wisconsin. Each member of Congress received one guest ticket to the Joint Session Address to Congress by President Trump that was held the evening of NOH. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) gave his to Dexter, who is a member of the AAN’s Government Relations Committee. Dexter said,
“It was a great honor to represent the AAN, our profession and our patients in Washington. It was also a thrill to be the guest of Rep. Kind at the presidential address. This is an NOH I’ll never forget.”
View the 2017 NOH Photo Album to enjoy more pictures of our visit. You can see who you recognize, either AAN member, representative, or senator. And if you attended, be sure to tag yourself in group photos!