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ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT


Rules of Engagement Gary Richberg, RN, CASC, discusses the importance of advocacy INTERVIEWED BY SAHELY MUKERJI


Gary Richberg, RN, CASC, ASCA Board member and director of Ambulatory Surgery Centers at Kadlec Clinic, a division of Prov-


idence Healthcare, in Richland, Wash- ington, has been involved with ASCA in different capacities for 20 years. He is a strong advocate for the ASC com- munity and shares the insight that he gained through experience.


Q Tell me about your background in advocacy.


Gary Richberg (GR): I attended my first fly-in [National Advocacy Day events] in Washington, DC, seven years ago. Since then, I have contin- ued meeting with our state senators and congressional leaders to advo- cate for the needs and interests of the ASC community. Additionally, I am an active member of ASCA’s nonpartisan political action committee (PAC).


Q How do you get physicians involved in advocacy?


GR: The challenge for getting more physicians involved in advocacy is for them to understand the impact of laws that can adversely impact our industry. Based on our leaders’ deci- sions in Washington, DC., these laws can affect their treatment of patients, including where and how they can perform procedures. Our legislators’ decisions are not


just impacting physician-owned ASCs, they are equally having an impact on hospital-employed surgeons as well.


Q Any advice for members of the get more involved in advocacy?


ASC community who want to 32 ASC FOCUS MAY 2021 | ascfocus.org


threw my hat into the ring. I have been a 20-year member of ASCA, formerly FASA. I have enjoyed work- ing for ASCA’s committees that advo- cate for the growth and development of our industry. I have been inspired by the talented committee members who are dedicated to the preservation of ASCs.


Q What do you see down the line for ASC reimbursement?


GR: It is essential to participate in the fundraisers for our political action committee known as ASCAPAC. If every ASC in the country donated just $750 to the PAC, we would surpass the American Hospital Association (AHA) PAC, which spends heavily on legis- lation that is often more favorable to them. ASCs compete with a substan- tially lower amount of funds.


Q Have you done a facility tour or participated in a fly-in?


GR: Yes, both. At my previous ASC, we hosted Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd District) to discuss the impact of both state and federal deci- sions on patient care. In terms of fly- ins, I have attended every year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and intend to attend again once we have obtained more significant control over the spread.


Q Why did you want to serve on the ASCA Board?


GR: I wanted to serve on the ASCA Board years ago, but regrettably, never


GR: I hope that reimbursement at a national level will reflect the value that ASCs bring to the healthcare field and allow us to perform more complicated procedures in our ASCs. ASCs in many communities across the country struggle with inadequate reimbursement for the services we provide. Some payers are slow to recognize the potential cost savings benefits to their insured patients by utilizing ASCs as appropriate surgi- cal sites of care.


Q What do we need to get changed through state


or federal law for ASCs to continue to thrive? GR: We need to continue to work to ensure that increases to our reimburse- ment are calculated based on the hos- pital outpatient market basket index and not on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The CPI-U is not an appropriate mea- sure of the increases in ASC expenses reflected in the cost of staff, all medi- cal supplies and medications that often increase annually.


Sahely Mukerji is the editor of ASC Focus magazine. Write her at smukerji@ ascassociation.org.


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