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ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT One-On-One With AmSurg General


Counsel Chris Kelly ASCAPAC allows the ASC community to join together and make its voice heard in DC, says this ASCAPAC Committee Member.


How did you first learn about ASCAPAC? KELLy: I first learned about the PAC when I was in Washington to educate members of Congress on ASCs and ask them to sign on as


cosponsors of our bill, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Quality and Access Act of 2011. Michael Guarino talked to me about it and mentioned all the great things that ASCAPAC is doing and the events it was hosting for mem- bers of Congress. From that point, I became a member of ASCAPAC and, then, I joined the ASCAPAC commit- tee to get more involved.


How would you describe the effect Congress’s decisions have on individ- uals in the ASC community? KELLy: If I was talking to someone who owns or works in an ASC, I would ask them to think about what has happened over the last 10 years—ASC payments have been significantly reduced in comparison to hospital outpatient de- partment (HOPD) payments either by the Deficit Reduction Act or by being tied to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) or be- cause of any number of other reasons. For the last 10 years, our industry didn’t have a strong presence in DC in terms of visits, ASCAPAC fundraising and fly-ins. You can’t live under a rock when it comes to advocacy and legisla- tive things happening in Washington. We have a debt crisis, we have a Medicare solvency problem and the government that has jurisdiction over our business is looking for ways to save money and cut spending. As a


result, we’ve seen ASC payments go down 78 percent in relation to HOPD payments. That directly affects you, your job and whether your business stays open and profitable enough to build new operating rooms or hire new physicians and staff.


How exactly does ASCAPAC benefit the ASC community? KELLy: ASCAPAC gives members of the ASC community a way to join together and make their voices heard. The advo- cacy efforts and events that ASCAPAC participates in give us the best personal access to members of Congress, and the ability to develop effective working rela- tionships with these decision makers in Washington, DC. By hosting fund-raising events either in Washington or a mem- ber’s home district, we get an hour that is dedicated to telling the ASC story. For a brief period of time, we get to engage with a member of Congress away from the noise and bustle of the office and tell them about all the great things we are do- ing in terms of patient access, patient sat- isfaction, efficiency and quality, all while being the lowest cost site of care. Many members of Congress who


have supported issues important to the ASC community have done so as a result of the relationship that was es- tablished at one of these events. That’s the best metric that is out there to prove that ASCAPAC works and that the money being raised and spent is really making a difference in Washington.


Isn’t that just buying access? KELLy: I would not say that at all. What ASCAPAC does is give industry lead- ers the opportunity to tell candidates


that it is important to our industry for them to be elected. Without that per- sonal relationship, it is hard to convince a member of Congress that your story is a good one and worthy of their sup- port. That’s why I go to these events, sometimes flying to Washington just to attend a fundraiser, because it is com- fortable personal time with a member where they are relaxed and can have a conversation about what is important. Most people recognize that what


goes on in Washington requires mem- bers to raise money for their re-election campaigns. Most people say we know that’s how the game is played and we don’t want to sit on the bench anymore. ASCAPAC focuses our efforts on peo- ple who are in a position to help our is- sues move forward. There are all kinds of ways that a member can help our cause, not just votes. We want to be an active participant in that game, and the only way to do that is to raise money, go to events and build these relationships.


Why should people get involved in advocacy? KELLy: What happens in Washington, especially on reimbursement issues, directly affects your financial future. Sitting on the sidelines or putting your head in the sand hoping that someone else will solve the problem is a huge mistake. The more people that get involved, the more likely it is that we can ensure that the in- dustry remains viable, your surgery center will stay open, your job will be safe and your center can grow and take care of patients. Don’t hope that somebody else is going to take care of the problem; get in the game and make a difference. Participate on any level. If you don’t, Congress won’t know our story.


ASCA’s Heather Falen Ashby interviewed Chris Kelly.


ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2013 29


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