By Ronald L. Moy, MD, AADA President, June 01, 2011
Our specialty’s successful pursuit of our advocacy agenda in the present legislative environment requires a strong presence in Washington and good relationships with members of Congress and key policymakers. 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.
The relationships that SkinPAC helps to build on Capitol Hill make the AADA the trusted voice of dermatology in Washington, D.C., ensuring that we have the influence we need. Without those relationships we’d have no seat at the table as important decisions are made, and no ability to influence legislation.
SkinPAC provides our members and representatives access to legislators and affords us the opportunity to start a dialogue about dermatology and the practice of medicine. Our primary goal is to become a valuable and trusted resource on the major issues facing our specialty.
Think about the way we are often viewed in the media. Our Academy’s focus on skin cancer prevention makes headlines, of course — but many of the stories lawmakers see about us relate to aesthetic, elective procedures and attempt to trivialize what we do. They can perceive our specialty to be over-compensated and presume that dermatologists mainly perform cosmetic procedures. Which specialty do you think Congress might pursue for reimbursement cuts or tax increases to balance the budget based on such perceptions? [pagebreak]
SkinPAC lets us teach lawmakers about the full scope of what dermatologists actually do. We treat more than 3,000 skin diseases, many of which are debilitating or life-threatening; the access SkinPAC provides reminds lawmakers of this fact. We are, largely, a specialty made up of small business owners, meaning we have particular concerns among physicians regarding many payment reform proposals; SkinPAC lets lawmakers know how their proposals will impact our small businesses and the many people we employ. We seek regulation of the use of indoor tanning beds; SkinPAC reminds lawmakers why that regulation is vital to public safety, encourages lawmakers to support it, and thanks those who have stood with us in the past. We want to ensure that patients have access to a dermatologist for their skin, hair, and nail health concerns, not a non-physician clinician in their general practitioner’s office; SkinPAC reminds lawmakers that this is what most Americans want, too.
Although success in advocacy may be hard to quantify, we have seen how SkinPAC is an effective tool on a number of our legislative priorities. Winning often means that a bad bill never gets introduced in Congress or that a particularly bad provision is stripped out of a bill and replaced with a better one.
The new health care law, for instance, included a provision that required business owners to report to the Internal Revenue Service transactions of $600 or more. This would have been tremendously burdensome for our practices. Though there were many other stakeholders outside of health care providers, SkinPAC’s resources allowed the AADA to play a leading role in the physician community on this issue. Our combined efforts helped ensure passage of the repeal of this provision, which President Obama recently signed into law. Also, before the new health care law was released to the public, it included a tax on cosmetic procedures. SkinPAC’s relationships allowed us to replace the cosmetic tax with a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning. We have also helped to delay implementation of penalties for not using electronic health records. Finally, another provision in the new health care law required drug and device manufacturers to report all payments to physicians. Through SkinPAC-supported relationships, the AADA worked to get significant protections for physicians included. We were able to meet these challenges, but there are more to come. We must support SkinPAC as we continue to advocate for positive change in the health care delivery system.
Convinced? Wondering how you can 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.
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.