By Kelley Pagliai Redbord, MD, FAAD
Summertime! For many of us that means beaches, barbeques, and baseball. However, as dermatologists, we are already thinking about early September and an event that will help shape the future of our specialty. The 2014 American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) Legislative Conference, September 7-9, 2014, in the heart of Washington, D.C., is a critical opportunity for us to collectively meet key legislators face-to-face and shine a light on the critical issues that face our patients and our profession.
Our involvement on Capitol Hill makes a difference and we need our voices to be heard more than ever. Last year, dermatologists and patient advocates were successful in their efforts to stop HR 2914, the Promoting Integrity in Medicare Act of 2013. This bill would have eliminated the exception to the Medicare Stark Law that allows physicians to provide anatomic pathology services within their offices. Our colleagues held 205 in-person meetings on the Hill and sent 1,116 emails to 295 legislators through the Dermatology Advocacy Network (DAN) opposing this legislation.
In addition, dermatologists and others asked members of Congress to co-sponsor HR 460, the Patient’s Access to Treatments Act, to join the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus and send a letter to the FDA in support of the proposed rule to reclassify indoor tanning devices. As a direct result of these grassroots efforts, many members co-sponsored HR 460 and joined the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus — and as we saw in May this year — the FDA finalized its proposed order to reclassify indoor tanning devices.
Despite these wins, we must continue to fight for our patients!
Our specialty is extremely concerned about the adequacy and transparency of Medicare Advantage (MA) networks and the effects they will have on patient access to care. The Medicare Advantage Participant Bill of Rights Act of 2014 (HR 4998/S 2552) — introduced in June — would enhance beneficiary and physician protections and improve transparency in the MA networks.
The AADA efforts have grown and strengthened over the past decade, providing the Academy with a powerful, authoritative voice in the Capitol.
Skin cancer prevention
Every one of us works tirelessly to protect our patients from the dangers of UV exposure and to promote sun-safe activity. We need congressional support! The AADA strongly encourages members of Congress to support federal legislative and regulatory initiatives to protect the public from the dangers of indoor tanning, address the growing skin cancer epidemic through public policy and educational activities, and improve access to safe and effective sunscreen products.
Medical research and access to treatments
There is only one way to stop skin cancer — education and research. This year, we will be calling on Congress to increase medical research funding and improve access to medical treatments. You can make a difference in Washington. Be a light for dermatologists and our patients!
Please join me and register for this event through the AADA Legislative Conference Web page.
Dr. Kelley P. Redbord, chair of the Academy’s State Policy Committee and chair of the Grassroots Advocacy Work Group, is in private practice in Rockville, Md., and Vienna, Va., and is an associate clinical professor at The George Washington University. She is also an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Mohs Surgery, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the Women’s Dermatologic Society, the Washington, D.C. Dermatologic Society, and the International Hyperhidrosis Society.