By Daniel M. Siegel, MD, November 01, 2012
When I promised to shave my head and beard if SkinPAC, the AADA’s political action committee, could raise $1 million for the current election cycle, some people thought I was kidding, or crazy. While the latter may remain a possibility in some of your minds, my photo this month should prove that I was very serious about my pledge.
I want to thank all of you who helped make my million-dollar haircut possible. I want to particularly thank Mark Lebwohl, MD, who covered the remaining amount when we got close to the milestone and was, as a result, the first one to grab the clippers on Aug. 17 in Boston. And thanks to all of you who have contributed the maximum $5,000 allowed in a year during the 2011-2012 election cycle, including Murad Alam, Rex Amonette, Andrew Bean, the late Darryl Bronson, Elizabeth Callahan, Clay Cockerell, Brett Coldiron, Brian Cook, Raymond Cornelison, Robert Durst, C. William Hanke, Hazle Konerding, Ronald Moy, Michael Mulvaney, Thomas Olsen, David Pariser, Sean Pattee, Helen Raynham, Sandra Read, Phoebe Rich, John Strasswimmer, Scott Warren, and Michael Zanolli.
I have bigger ambitions for SkinPAC going forward, though. We were able to raise $1 million with only 12 percent of the AADA membership contributing. What if every dermatologist in the United States gave the reimbursement for a single biopsy to SkinPAC each year? We’d be raising $3 million per cycle, further raising our visibility and presence among leaders in Washington. Add reimbursement for a single Mohs procedure from those who do them and we’d be one of the biggest medical PACs in the country. [pagebreak]
What would that mean for us? A political action committee does not stand on its own, but it plays an important role in raising our visibility in Washington. Along with our grassroots efforts and meetings with lawmakers, we would have a bigger voice to express our concerns about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a threat to fair reimbursement for physician services by Medicare. With the urgency of fixing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula, which dangles over us each year, threatening the vitality of our practices, it is essential that we seek every opportunity to raise the visibility of our profession and to educate policymakers about the care that dermatologists provide to patients. This would also mean further opportunities to increase awareness of the dangers of indoor tanning and encouraging better skin cancer prevention efforts.
Imagine the possibilities.
Thank you for your support and for making me a bald, clean-shaven man a few months ago. Elections are a biennial insurgency; as soon as one battle is over a new one begins. The only way we’ll ever achieve meaningful change is to maintain and increase our newfound strength.
And maybe, just maybe, you can convince Dirk Elston, MD, who will follow me as president, or Brett Coldiron, MD, who will follow him, to make some outlandish promise that he’ll fulfill if SkinPAC raises $2 million next time around. The bar has been set, gentlemen!
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.