ACP Leadership Day Report

Representatives from ACPNJ participated in the May 26th ACP Leadership Day, which was conducted virtually for the first time.   Jonathan Shammash, MD, FACP, ACPNJ Northern Governor; Elizabeth Cerceo, MD, FACP, ACPNJ Health and Public Policy Committee Chair; Sunil Sapru, MD, FACP, ACNJ Northern Governor-Elect; and Adam Ungemach, MS3 at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University represented our chapter.

The group met with staff from the offices of Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Representatives Mikie Sherill (NJ-11), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02), and Bill Pascrell (NJ-09).

In the meeting with our elected officials, Dr. Shammash emphasized ACP's commitment to continued implementation of and reimbursement for telemedicine services, and requested support for the following bills:

HR 2903 and S 1512: CONNECT for Health Act, which removes arbitrary barriers to telehealth services, and HR 708 and S 168, the TREAT Act, which continues providing telehealth services across state lines after the public health emergency ends.  There was general support for continuing telemedicine services.

Dr. Cerceo discussed the importance of improving public health through environmental protection, noting the adverse effects of particulate pollution on the health of her patients in Camden and on the health of patients in Newark and other urban centers.  She requested support for HR 3271 and S 1702, the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, which supports the development of a national climate change action plan to promote health.  Dr. Cerceo also described ACPNJ's effort to develop an environmental sustainability in health care task force with key stakeholders in NJ.  Staffers expressed interest in this initiative.

Dr. Sapru explained the importance of maintaining the primary care physician workforce in New Jersey through increasing GME residency positions and the continued implementation of the Conrad 30 program.  He requested support for the following bills:

HR 2256 and S 834: Resident Physician Reduction Shortage Act--Increase GME slots by 2000 per year over 7 years (14.000 slots) for specialties facing shortages, including internal medicine

S 948 Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act--expedite visas for international medical graduates (IMG's), and permanently authorize Conrad 30;

S 3599 Health Care Workforce Resilience Act- makes up to 40,000 previously unused immigrant visas available to nurses and physicians in order to provide care related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr. Sapru also requested support for HR 1667 and S 610, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which supports the behavioral health and wellbeing of physicians.

Medical Student Ungemach explained the pervasive and negative impact of student debt on medical students' education and career decisions.  He requested support for the following bills:

HR 1554: REDI Act Resident Education Deferred Interest Act--interest free loan deferment while in residency;

HR 2418: Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Care Workers Act--loan forgiveness for student graduates and other health care providers on the frontlines.

Our ACPNJ delegation also expressed support for the following bills:

HR 369: Health Care Affordability Act--to expand premium tax credits for the ACA;

HR 1025: Kids' Access to Primary Care Act--to bring Medicaid reimbursement up to Medicare levels;

S 833: Empower Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act--to allow CMS to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices;

HR 2163 and S 464: Safe Step Act--Access to appropriate treatment based on clinical decision making and medical necessity, rather than arbitrary step therapy protocols.

We encourage your participation in advocating for these bills, which will support improvements in public health, increase patient access to care, provide relief for medical student debt, and support physician wellness.  You can contact our Senators and your Representatives though the ACPNJ website at https://acpnj.org/advocacy/.

If you are interested in joining the ACPNJ Health and Public Policy Committee, please contact ACPNJ Associate Executive Director Theresa Barrett at theresa@acpnj.org.

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