Leadership Day returned to Capitol Hill this year for the first time since 2019, with nearly 350 ACP Members from 44 states and the District of Columbia visiting Congress to promote ACP's priorities. Attendees at the Washington, D.C., event received training and education from ACP leadership on May 17 and visited congressional offices on May 18, after briefings from Representatives Ami Bera, MD, FACP (D-CA), and John Joyce, MD, FACP (R-PA).
ACP's legislative priorities for the 2022 election year include access to care, physician payment, mental and behavioral health care, prescription drug reform, primary care and the physician workforce, and public health and pandemic preparedness, Shari M. Erickson, MPH, ACP's Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy and Chief Advocacy Officer, told attendees in her May 17 presentation. She emphasized that Leadership Day is not in itself a policymaking event but that policy is developed through ACP's policy committees, councils, the Board of Governors, and ultimately the Board of Regents.
“I think the ACP did a very good job this year of choosing priorities that were important to ACP but had a lot of bipartisan appeal,” said ACP President Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, who was attending his 10th Leadership Day. “No matter what political party you were speaking with, they have some potential to help our patients and obviously the health care profession.”
ACP Members attended a total of 399 congressional meetings during the event, 85 in the Senate and 314 in the House, at the offices of 206 Democrats, 191 Republicans, and two independent elected officials. One feature of Leadership Day is the involvement of trainees: Approximately 97 ACP Resident/Fellow Members and 61 ACP Medical Student Members participated this year as part of their state delegations.
“It's exciting, actually, to see our future leaders and future physicians being involved in advocacy, because really, what we're advocating for today is going to affect health care in the future,” said Dr. Mire. “A refreshing highlight to the meeting is to see our future of medicine being able to stand up and go in to these legislators and talk about the issues.”
Leadership Day also offers an unparalleled opportunity to bring patients' and physicians' perspectives directly to the legislators who help craft the laws that affect them, Dr. Mire stressed. “The key is just being able to sit across the table and advocate for the patients that we serve, and obviously the constituents that they have been elected to serve,” he said. “That connection is a true, powerful moment, to be able to do that and take your office experiences and bring them to D.C. to speak with those who make those decisions.”
More information about Leadership Day and ACP's other advocacy efforts is online.