Talking the Talk


On May 26, members of SHM’s Public Policy Committee visited Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their legislative staffs. Now in their fifth year, the annual “Hill Day” meetings have evolved from explaining “What is a hospitalist?” to substantive discussions about HM’s impact on improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare and reducing preventable rehospitalizations.

“We don’t go in with an agenda to ask for things” or to guard professional turf, says Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, committee chair and a critical care fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison. “People on the Hill who talk to us recognize that we are the experts [on improving the quality of hospital care]. They say to us: ‘You are different than the other medical associations; you really represent the solution.’ ”

The committee highlighted Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions), SHM’s national quality initiative aimed at helping to improve care transitions and reduce rehospitalizations—–a major focus in the healthcare reform legislation.

Committee members also discussed SHM's support for a permanent repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Physician reimbursement to Medicare patients technically was cut by 21% on June 1. The House passed another stopgap measure, but the Senate adjourned before a vote and is expected to raise the topic again early next week.

Committee member Patrick Torcson, MD, SFHM, a hospitalist at St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, La., spent 30 minutes with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), among his other Congressional encounters. “I had to be respectful and mindful of our senators’ and representatives’ different positions on healthcare reform,” Dr. Torcson explains, adding Vitter voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March. “But he couldn’t have been more engaging with me. We talked about all aspects of hospital medicine.”

Find out the latest information on SGR reform and contact your legislators in support of permanent repeal through SHM's Legislative Action Center.

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