In the last 40 years, millions of Americans have benefited from the high-quality, cost-effective surgical care that ASCs provide, yet there are still members of Congress and other policymakers who do not understand the services that ASCs offer or the ways that ASCs have transformed the surgical experience for patients and providers. ASCA continues to voice ASCs’ concerns and advocate for the ASC community in Washington, D.C., but its efforts are amplified many times over when individual ASC managers, owners, physicians and staff get involved.
To give ASCs the chance to be fully represented in the current national dialogue surrounding health care cost and quality, ASCA will host several events and provide a range of specialized services this year to help individual ASC leaders and advocates get involved.
One of the most important events that ASCA will conduct this year is its Capitol Fly-In program. Through this program, we will help hundreds of ASCA members come to Washington, D.C., to meet face-to-face with their members of Congress this June and October. During these meetings, ASCA’s members will have important opportunities to discuss the cost-savings and quality care that ASCs provide. They will also have a chance to talk about some of the legislative initiatives pending in Congress that can help ASCs do even more for patients in need of outpatient surgical care.
Another advocacy program that ASCA is supporting this year is National ASC Week. During the third week of August, ASCA is encouraging ASCs across the country to invite their members of Congress into their facility to see, firsthand, what ASCs have to offer. ASCA has information that ASCs can use to prepare for these visits and staff that can help ASCs send invitations, conduct a facility tour and follow up with their legislators.
One of the resources that ASCA makes available to help with facility tours and other ASC advocacy activities is its Campaign for Advancing Surgical Care website (www.ascassociation.org/advancingsurgicalcare). On that site, you can get copies of research studies that demonstrate the many advantages ASCs offer, view statistics about ASCs, find the ASCs in your local community and learn about federal legislation that the ASC community supports. New this year, you can also view a short video that answers the question “What is an ASC?” And, you don’t have to schedule an ASC facility tour before you can share the information on that website with your members of Congress or with your patients, community leaders and state officials. Just share the link provided above.
Another way that ASCA works on behalf of ASCs in Washington, D.C., is through our regulatory outreach. Every day, we work with national policy experts who set, approve and manage the regulatory requirements that apply to ASCs. Often, ASCs need additional information before they can comply with new requirements that are released. ASCA works to obtain clarification where it is needed and reform, and even repeal, when necessary. Individual ASC professionals can help support these efforts by providing data when ASCA requests it and information about the ways new regulations affect their facility. Comments about policy changes that are still needed to support ASCs in providing the services they already provide and expanding into new areas are always welcome.
This November, when Americans go to the polls to elect the next president of the United States, we can expect that the future of our nation’s health care system will be one of the key issues that many voters will have in mind. If you work in or with an ASC, in addition to casting your vote this fall, I encourage you to make sure that you are a member of ASCA now and to make sure that you are involved in at least some of the advocacy and outreach opportunities ASCA offers this year.
ASC professionals have a lot of work to do to make sure that ASCs are well-represented in the health policy decisions that will be made under our next president.