Capitol Hill Report

Read the Academy's bi-weekly update on legislative and regulatory advocacy for neurology. 

 Captiol Hill

congratulate these new palf graduates

May 21, 2018

2018 PALF Class Ready to Change the World Through Advocacy

Guest Author Javier Cárdenas, MD

Last weekend, 30 AAN members graduated from the 16th annual Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum (PALF), the AAN’s prestigious, award-winning leadership program. They joined 443 graduates from 47 states (along with Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) and 17 other countries. I was honored to graduate from PALF in 2008, return as an advisor in 2009 and 2015, and serve as the Master of Ceremonies this year. 

Javier Cárdenas, MD (left) with Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)

I can say with certainty that this was the one of the best PALF classes ever. Some real stars were revealed in this year's groups as each advocate spent the weekend in front of a camera practicing sound bites about patient care and improving the health care system. Each advocate also received legislative training, which consisted of mock congressional office visits to support the solutions to the opioid crisis that the AAN is currently pushing on Capitol Hill. The advocates concluded the weekend with an action plan to move forward on an issue they’re most passionate about, such as increased research funding and better stroke care for minority populations.

I congratulate the 2018 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum class.

  • Nikesh Bajaj, DO - Illinois
  • Lori Billinghurst, MD, MSc, FRCPC - Pennsylvania
  • Melissa Fellman, MD - Florida
  • Jessica Gautreaux, MD - Louisiana
  • Barbara  Giesser, MD - California
  • Hilda Guerra, MD - Minnesota
  • Heidi Henninger, MD - Maine
  • James Hillis, MBBS, DPhil - Massachusetts
  • Sean Horrigan, DO - Massachusetts
  • Chinazom Ibegbu , MD, MA - New York
  • Rebecca Ichord, MD - Pennsylvania
  • Joseph Kamtchum Tatuene, MD - United Kingdom
  • Mustafa Khan, MD - New York
  • Antonio Moya, MD, MPH - New York
  • Kristi Nord, MD - Indiana
  • Meghan O'Neill, MD - Illinois
  • Temitayo Oyegbile, MD, PhD - District of Columbia
  • Wesley Reynolds, MD - Colorado
  • Logan Schneider, MD - California
  • Vishal Shah, MD - California
  • Neeraj Singh, MD - New York
  • Amaal Starling, MD - Arizona
  • Kara Stavros, MD - Rhode Island
  • Lekhjung Thapa, MD, DM - Nepal
  • Philip Tipton, MD - Florida
  • Carey Wilson, MD - Utah
  • Andrew  Wilson, MD, MS, MBA - California
  • Allan Wu, MD - California
  • Crystal Yeo, MD, PhD- Texas
  • Marcus Yountz, MD - Massachusetts

I want to also thank the following PALF graduates, who returned to the program this year to serve as faculty and advisors for the 2018 class. With their commitment and work, the 2018 class has left with the skills and energy to change the world through advocacy. 

  • Wayne E. Anderson, MD, FAAN - California
  • Teryn B. Clarke, MD - California
  • Anindita Deb, MD - Massachusetts
  • Ashley P. Ghiaseddin, MD - Florida
  • Wolfgang Grisold, MD - Austria
  • Umer Najib, MD - West Virginia
  • Gaurang M. Palikh, MD - North Carolina
  • Matthew S. Robbins, MD, FAAN - New York
  • Jonathan Santoro, MD - California
  • Tanzid Shams, MD - Tennessee
  • Sarah Song, MD, FAAN - Illinois
  • Parthasarathy Thirumala, MD, FAAN - Pennsylvania
  • Glynnis Zieman, MD - Arizona

I encourage any AAN members with a passion for public advocacy and a desire to increase your advocacy skills to apply for the Forum. The application process for next year will begin in the fall of 2018.

See additional highlights by searching #AANPALF on Twitter. 


AAN Discusses Drug Prices with HHS Leadership

The AAN is taking a leadership role in Washington to make Congress and regulatory agencies aware of the impact ever-increasing drug prices are having on neurologists’ ability to care for their patients.  

In early May, Daniel Spirn, the AAN’s senior regulatory counsel, met with a deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to discuss the important topic of drug pricing. HHS’ senior advisor to the secretary for drug pricing reform also joined the meeting.

  • The AAN expressed its desire to work closely with HHS as the agency tackles the issue of rising drug costs. The neurology space has seen numerous medications rise to levels that are unaffordable for patients.
  • During the meeting, the AAN called for increased transparency in drug pricing and a hope to see lower out-of-pocket maximums for patients. Additionally, neurologists are often unaware of a medication’s cost before prescribing and sometimes lack a cheaper alternative option.
  • This meeting took place just before the Trump Administration and HHS released their strategy on drug prices. The proposals focus on expanding generic competition, reforming Part B and D Medicare, and targeting pharmacy benefit managers, among other policy ideas. The AAN is currently reviewing the proposals and plans to submit responses.

Electronic Prior Authorization Bill Moves Through Committee

The AAN advocates for policies that improve patient care and reduce physician burdens. As a top priority for 2018, the AAN is advocating for the broader adoption of electronic prior authorization (ePA) for prescription drug approvals. Although most insurance companies offer ePA, many do not offer it for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

The AAN supports the Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act of 2018, H.R. 4841, by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ). H.R. 4841 would require insurance companies to offer ePA for Medicare Advantage and Part D and require that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services have standards in place to facilitate ePA.

The House Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce Committees both passed H.R. 4841 out of their committees in May as part of the large legislative packages to address the opioid crisis. This legislation is expected to be considered on the House floor in the coming weeks, and a Senate companion is expected to be introduced soon.   

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