Your Voice in Washington
The Commission on government Relations unites the specialty to advocate for the future of radiology.
The ACR Commission on government relations (GR), working with our Washington, D.C. staff, is charged with representing to Congress and legislators the interests of our patients, members, and those who contribute to the entire radiology profession.
The commission's goal is to increase radiology's influence in Congress and the activities in state legislatures (in coordination with our State Government Relations Committee). The GR members and staff work closely with the ACR's Commission on Economics to coordinate legislative oversight and engagement with Medicare payment policies of concern to the ACR. It is the GR commission's mission to be proactive in matters related to quality patient care, radiation therapy, medical imaging, and image-guided interventions.
Many organizations in radiology rely on the ACR to represent the profession in legislative and regulatory matters. Few societies in radiology have the commitment, resources, and relationships to be effective in health care politics and policy development. The commission and the College's GR Department work closely with other radiology organizations, patient advocacy groups, equipment vendors, and non-radiology medical societies to advocate for the profession and our patients.
Advocacy and lobbying activities are vital to the success of radiology. Studies have demonstrated the value of lobbying activity for corporations and non-profit institutions. However, the political arena can be challenging, with varying interest groups competing for limited resources. It is the charge of the commission and the GR Department to recognize these challenges and focus on achievable successes, such as clinical decision support legislation included in the 2014 SGR extension.
The commitment to dedicate the necessary resources to build a comprehensive lobbying and policy development advocacy department was the vision of the late Harvey L. Neiman, MD, FACR. When he first took over as ACR CEO, Neiman approached Cynthia Moran, now ACR's executive vice president, and challenged her to work with him to create the best advocacy group in specialty medicine. The result is one of the most respected medical professional advocacy teams in Washington today.
There are three committees under the GR Commission. The Federal Regulatory Committee, chaired by Robert K. Zeman, MD, FACR, monitors regulations coming out of Washington relevant to radiology. The State Government Relations Committee, under the leadership of Christopher G. Ullrich, MD, FACR, is charged with addressing legislative initiatives developing at the state level. The Committee on Government & Regulatory Issues in Academic Radiology, led by James V. Rawson, MD, FACR, focuses on issues relevant to our academic and training centers.
Radiology's political action committee, RADPAC, works closely with the commission. Staffed by Ted Burnes and assisted by Laura Hylden, RADPAC is charged with soliciting voluntary contributions from ACR Association members to support campaigns of pro-radiology federal candidates. The focus is to support those candidates who understand radiology and its important role in providing quality health care. RADPAC also works closely with state chapters and their PACS to develop early and emerging relationships with future political leaders.
Through RADPAC, Burnes coordinates site visits with group practices and radiology departments. The site visitation program presents important opportunities for members to introduce legislators to our practices and underscore radiology's health care role in our communities.
To conclude, the Commission on Government Relations and the GR Department represent you and your professional interests in Washington. Our staff and structure are solid foundations to advocate for radiology. To realize our potential, we need your help, enthusiasm, and energy to reach out to legislators and regulators.
With radiology speaking with one voice, we can be proactive in maneuvering through the hurdles and challenges of our dynamic health care environment.
Running the RAN
The Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN) is a vital activity of the GR Commission and the Government Relations Department. Staffed by Melody Ballesteros and chaired by Andrew C. Wu, MD, FACR, the RAN was founded to increase the profession's response to calls for action.
When pending legislation or regulatory action demands grassroots response, our lobbying team activates the RAN network. Emails go out to all members of the College or can be targeted to specific members' congressional districts or states. RAN representatives then reinforce the message through state chapters, practices, and academic departments. The resident and fellow advocacy team has been very effective in getting the word out and reaching 73 percent of academic and training centers. Since its development, the RAN has increased the call-to-action response rate from 4 percent to over 14 percent.
Next time you receive an email about a call to action, please join your colleagues in adding your voice to support the issues most important to our specialty.
By Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, Vice Chair, Commission on Government Relations