Allergists go to Washington

Robert Aderholt and Dr. Meadows
At the White House: Dane McBride, MD, FACAAI; J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI; Thomas Fleisher, MD, FACAAI; Brian Blase, PhD, Special Assistant to the President Health Policy; Abraham Sutton, Deputy Director National Economic Council; James Sublett, MD, FACAAI; James Tracy, MD, FACAAI; Stephen Imbeau, MD, FACAAI; Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI

On May 8 and 9, some of allergy's top leaders converged on Washington, DC to advocate to Congress and the Trump administration for issues important to you and your patients.

On May 8, leaders of the College and Advocacy Council were joined by AAAAI's executive vice president for some very special meetings. Over the course of the two days, these allergy/immunology leaders met the special assistant to the president for health policy in the White House Complex, along with the deputy director of the National Economic Council. In addition, the group met with: the director of public health programs for the Pew Charitable Trust; the House Energy and Commerce Committee staff; the principal deputy advisor of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and the deputy director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

During these meetings, we explained the critically important role allergists play in our nation's healthcare delivery system. Furthermore, we discussed:

  • The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) issue and how previously proposed changes to USP compounding policy would affect our ability to provide life-changing treatments to our patients;
  • How Patient Access to Specialty Care limits patients' ability to see allergists and how studies have proven care by an allergist is not only cost effective, but improves the quality of patients' lives; and
  • Allergy's alternative payment model for asthma, demonstrating our desire to increase the quality of care for our patients while reducing costs.  

We recieved valuable feedback in these meetings.

Some of our leaders met with Congressman Robert Aderholt, chairman of the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee. Congressman Aderholt is chairman of the subcommittee that oversees funding of the Food and Drug Administration, and he has consistently been a strong supporter of our stance on the USP issue. Another group met with Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-9 District) to thank him for his leadership on the USP issue.  

On May 9 a larger contingent of practicing allergists from around the country joined patients and family members from 28 states – coordinated by the Allergy and Asthma Network - for meetings with their representatives and senators. One of those meetings was with key health staff for Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). These meetings allow members of Congress and their staff to put a constituent's face on major chronic disease problems such as allergies and asthma.  

These annual visits to Capitol Hill are the basis for forming lines of communication between elected officials and the people they have been elected to represent. Ideally, the next time a bill is introduced in Congress that would affect allergists or our patients, these members and staff will reach out to their constituents as well as the Advocacy Council and the College, to seek our advice and counsel. Leaders make this trip – taking time from their practices – because of the importance of these meetings. Allergy is a small sub-specialty, but we lobby big!  

You can do it too! We have a webinar "How to Advocate for Allergists" to help those who may not be comfortable in this area. Additional resources are also available at the Advocacy Council Resource page. The College is here for you.

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