Role of Advocacy in Congressional Decision Making Help ASCA promote your ASC on Capitol Hill BY ADAM PARKER

It has been almost 50 years since the first ASC opened its doors. Two physicians, Wallace Reed, MD, and John Ford, MD, estab-

lished the first ASC in Phoenix, Ari- zona, in 1970 to provide timely, conve- nient and comfortable surgical services to patients in their community. In the last 50 years, ASCs have become pio- neers of evolutionary surgery that ben- efits patients, Medicare and third-party payers. ASCs reduce healthcare spend- ing in the US by $40.3 billion per year and save the Medicare system $2.3 bil- lion annually.

The aging of America’s Baby Boomers provides ample opportuni- ties for ASCs to continue to grow and provide a wider swath of patients with their valuable, in-demand services. That said, ASCs still face stumbling blocks to maximizing their potential. The obstacles include regulatory bur- dens, lower reimbursements and an unfair playing field with hospital out- patient departments (HOPD). The high-quality, low-cost out-

comes ASCs provide to patients and the substantial savings they secure for the US healthcare system, and Medi- care in particular, are appealing to law- makers across the political spectrum. ASC legislative priorities have seen broad, bipartisan support. For exam- ple, H.R. 1520, the Removing Barri- ers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2019, has been cosponsored by 291 members of the House of Rep- resentatives. With 52 cosponsors, its partner bill in the Senate, S. 668, has likewise garnered the vocal support of more than half of the Senate. One of the greatest barriers to advancing ASC legislation is education. With a historically large freshman class, the 116th

congress is in particular need of

congressional staff indicated in-person meetings between members, their staff and constituents were the most impor- tant factor in members understanding their constituents’ issues.

In a Congressional Management Foundation survey of congressional staff, 94 percent of all staff said that in-person meetings with constituents had a positive, educational influence on how their member of Congress viewed an issue.”

—Adam Parker, ASCA

education about the benefits that ASCs provide. There are no more capable advocates for ASCs and the ASC com- munity than ASCA members. For members of Congress, staying in touch with the needs and opinions of their constituents is often the most important aspect of their job. For rep- resentatives and senators who have not already taken a firm stance on an issue, hearing directly from their constitu- ents in face-to-face meetings in Wash- ington, DC, is often the single greatest influence on the decisions they make on an issue. In a Congressional Manage- ment Foundation survey of congres- sional staff, 94 percent of all staff said that in-person meetings with constitu- ents had a positive, educational influ- ence on how their member of Congress viewed an issue. In the same survey,


National Advocacy Day ASCA’s National Advocacy Day gives ASC advocates the opportunity to meet with members of Congress in their Washington, DC, offices, build valu- able relationships and educate mem- bers and their legislative staff about the ASC community. Past National Advo- cacy Days have included as many as 300 ASC advocates meeting with 250 members of Congress and their staff, raising awareness about the role ASCs play in the healthcare system.

National ASC Month Held in August, National ASC Month coincides with the members of Con- gress’ most intensive period of in-dis- trict work. National ASC Month pro- vides ASCA members and members of the ASC community with the chance to educate members of Congress through facility tours. The tours give members of Congress a chance to experience first- hand why and how ASCs are able to provide the high-quality, low-cost care they are known for providing. Facility tours can be scheduled throughout the year. In 2018, 39 members of Congress toured ASCs across the country. More than half went on to cosponsor the ASC Quality & Access Act of 2017. To learn more about National ASC Month, National Advocacy Day and other ways you can become involved in advocating for ASCs, write Adam Parker or call 571.982.6261.

Adam Parker is ASCA’s manager of Grassroots and Political Affairs. Write him at

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