2021 Leadership and Advocacy Conference Update

Blake Denley, MD

Twelve Louisiana physicians joined our Emergency Medicine colleagues in Washington D.C. July 25-27 for ACEP’s Leadership and Advocacy conference. There were three main priorities we learned about and discussed with senators and representatives—Mental Health Support for Healthcare Workers, Medication-Assisted Treatment in Opioid Use Disorder, and the Impending Medicare Payment Cuts.

I am proud to say that on August 6, 2021, the Senate unanimously passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which was the first priority we discussed with the members. This act, which was co-sponsored Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), establishes grants for not only education and research on burnout and healthcare provider well-being, but also for programming and behavioral health treatment for providers. The funding for the Lorna Breen Act, upwards of $140 million, was already approved as part of the America Rescue Plan, but passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was still necessary for the allocation of funds.  

We also advocated to eliminate the X-waiver through the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, which currently has over 80 co-sponsors, though none from Louisiana. We were able to provide great first-hand experiences in regards to the X-waiver being an obstacle in the treatment of OUD in the ED and will hopefully see our members co-sponsor the MAT act in the future.  And finally, we advocated against the Medicare payment cuts set to take place at the end of the year.

What can you do?

Call and email your representatives, and let your voice be heard! These topics are already on their minds thanks to the hard work of your colleagues, but the work is certainly not over. 

Thank our senators for their support of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, and request our representatives do the same. Despite already passing in the Senate and having over 110 co-sponsors in the House, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act does not have the co-sponsorship from a single Louisiana member of the House.  This is a great opportunity for you to open the conversation with a bipartisan, easy-to-support request.

The most powerful act of advocacy you can do is to share your stories. Your testimony is invaluable, and we need our Members to hear them. Share with them the struggles of opiate addiction that you’ve witnessed in the ED. Share with them the trials of the past year, so they recognize the importance of patients having access to emergency care.

I hope you will join us in our advocacy efforts by emailing your representatives and requesting they support the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act as well as the prevention of Medicare payment cuts. Contact information for your senators and representatives can be found at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/LA#senators.  I also hope to see you at next year’s ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. May 1-4, 2022.

Thank you so much to the following physicians for your work on behalf of all emergency physicians and our patients: James Aiken, Jennifer Avegno, Larick David, Blake Denley, Deborah Fletcher, Jay Kaplan, Jamie Hoitien Do Kuo, Luke LeBas, Marian Sackey, Nicholas Salerno, Joshua Tiao, and Lindsey Williams.