The future of healthcare is at a crossroads. In the past year, the Trump Administration and Congress have made several proposals to address the rising costs of healthcare and drugs, which have the potential to dramatically affect the landscape of cancer care. Now more than ever, the voices of professionals on the front lines of cancer care are crucial to shaping the direction of future legislation.
On March 20, ACCC members brought their expertise to the halls of Congress and shared their perspectives on recent legislative efforts, the impacts that federal policy has on cancer programs and practices in their home communities, and policy goals in more than 65 meetings with the offices of Representatives and Senators.
Carolyn Haskins, MS, CGC, Genetic Counselor at Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla. (left) meets with Maria Robayo, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL 14th District).
“Representing ACCC on Capitol Hill allowed for my voice as a genetic counselor—caring for oncology patients daily—to be heard,” says Carolyn Haskins, MS, CGC, of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. “Additionally, I gained tremendous insight into the ever-evolving landscape of oncology care.”
Stuart Portman, Advisor, Health Policy for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), meets with Susannah Friemel, MD, oncologist at Iowa Cancer Specialists.
Capitol Hill Day was the first opportunity for ACCC members to meet with the 116th Congress, a diverse legislative class featuring more than 100 newly elected Representatives and 10 Senators. ACCC members arrived determined and ready to provide members of Congress with specific policy asks to address gaps in coverage for cancer care:
Left to right: Leigh Boehmer, PharmD, BCOP, ACCC Medical Director of Education; Tarry Mills Hodges, Director of Governmental Relations at St. Joseph’s/Candler, Savannah, Ga.; Michael L. Chou, Director of Operations at South Carolina Cancer Specialists, P.A., Hilton Head Island, S.C.; and Seth Ismail, Legislative Correspondent for Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC 6th District.)
The fact that Congress was not in session this week was not a deterrent to Capitol Hill Day participants—security lines were shorter, and meetings with legislative staff were productive, allowing more time for cancer team members to share their professional expertise and personal stories with lawmakers from around the country.
“I was pleasantly surprised how engaging and engaged the staffers were, which makes one hopeful that we have made a difference,” said Susannah Friemel, MD, of Iowa Cancer Specialists. “Going into the meeting, I thought it would be brief—a whirlwind of things happening—where in reality we met with committed individuals who never rushed us.”
Mahesh Seetharam, MD, FACP, oncologist at Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Ariz. (left), and Ali McBride, PharmD, MS, BCOP, Clinical Coordinator of Hematology/Oncology at The University of Arizona Cancer Center, after meeting with Sylvia Lee, Senior Policy Advisor to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
At a lunch in the Longworth House Office Building, Capitol Hill Day attendees heard from Dr. Robyn Stacy-Humphries, a radiation oncologist and cancer survivor. Dr. Stacy-Humphries personally attested to the importance of clinical trial access, as she participated in a trial for a CAR T-cell therapy.
Capitol Hill Day marks the kickoff of the ACCC 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit. Stay tuned to the ACCCBuzz blog for highlights from meeting sessions, and follow @ACCCBuzz on Twitter for real-time updates and insights.
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