By Daniel M. Siegel, MD, May 01, 2012
The changing health care environment requires bold action and participation from all of us. If you heard me speak in San Diego, you know that there are many ways for dermatologists to help enhance our specialty, from volunteering to becoming more involved in local communities and at hospitals to working within the Academy and other medical societies.
But the changing health care environment will be influenced by more than what we do and say. If you want dermatology to have a strong presence in Washington, D.C., if you want to help dermatology build relationships with members of Congress and key policymakers, there are few things you can do as an individual dermatologist that will be more helpful than contributing to SkinPAC, the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s political action committee.
I feel so strongly that this is the case that, if our PAC is able to raise $1 million for the 2012 election cycle by the Summer Academy Meeting, being held Aug. 15-19 in Boston, I will allow my head and beard to be shaved on-stage during the plenary session. Anyone who has contributed the maximum amount — $5,000 per election cycle — will be offered a swipe of the razor. I’ve already given the maximum financial contribution to SkinPAC, but I’m prepared to give the hair on my head to help us become a seven-figure PAC. If we can do it sooner at a fundraiser in your hometown, I will give up the hair, scalp, and beard (but no eyebrows or eyelashes) right then and there!
Is this goal an unreasonable one? Not to my mind. Our friends in emergency medicine have raised more than $1 million. Anesthesia and radiology have raised three times as much as we have.
The trial lawyers raised more than $6 million in the last midterm election cycle, and had raised almost $3 million by the end of 2011.[pagebreak]
You may wonder why this matters — can’t we just make our case? Business in Washington is not so simple. SkinPAC helps to build relationships on Capitol Hill that make the AADA the trusted voice of dermatology, ensuring that we have the influence we need. Those relationships give us the seat at the table we need to ensure that our voice is heard as important decisions are made and the ability to try to influence legislation. You know, of course, that the alternative to sitting at the table is being served on it.
Being at the table means that AADA members and our staff have access to legislators. SkinPAC gives us the opportunity to engage in dialogue about dermatology and its important role in the practice of medicine. Starting that dialogue allows us, over time, to become a valuable and trusted resource for legislators on the major issues facing our specialty.
For example, when legislators were working out the details of the health system reform law, our SkinPAC relationships gave us the access we needed to learn that a cosmetic tax was one of the provisions being used to pay for the law. That allowed us to recommend a replacement: a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning. That’s a win-win — preventing a provision that would have hurt our patients while replacing it with one that creates additional disincentive for the public to do something that could make them our future skin cancer patients. And SkinPAC made it possible.
Are you ready to give to SkinPAC? Contributions can be made on a one-time basis or via scheduled automatic deductions, either monthly or quarterly. For more information, visit www.skinpac.org or contact Sam Hewitt, the AADA’s manager of political affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 712-2609. Don’t delay — the summer meeting is right around the corner and the November elections are not far beyond!
SkinPAC’s political purpose is to solicit and receive contributions to be used to make political campaign expenditures to those candidates for federal elective office, and other federal political committees, who demonstrate understanding and interest in the views and goals of the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Contributions to SkinPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. SkinPAC cannot accept contributions from corporate accounts. All AADA members have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits us from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, physical address, occupation, and the name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.