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    AACU advocacy conference dissects urology's particular priorities

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    This article is part of an ongoing series from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU), based on a partnership between the AACU and Urology Times. Articles are designed to provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions about topics for future articles. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or [email protected] for more information.

    The American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) attracted a record number of urologists, including more than 20 presidents of urology state societies, to the organization’s recent 5th Annual State Society Network Advocacy Conference. The 2-day program featured sessions on socioeconomic issues impacting the practice of urology, including successful advocacy campaigns and non-physician providers’ (NPP) scope of practice.

    Participants—regardless of practice setting and size—took home valuable tools to improve their advocacy efforts and influence policymakers in their home state.

    "The quality of the AACU state advocacy conference improves every year," Conference Chair Richard Pelman, MD, asserted. "The fact that a growing number of urologists are taking part is just one measure of the event’s growing importance and influence."

    Another factor contributing to the meeting’s success, according to Dr. Pelman and Conference Vice Chair Mark Austenfeld, MD, is a dynamic program that addresses the specialized concerns of urologists.

    Indeed, the presidents of organized urology’s largest national organizations kicked off the conference with an assessment of the socioeconomic issues facing their profession. AACU President Arthur Tarantino, MD, Large Urology Group Practice Association President Deepak Kapoor, MD, and AUA President Dennis Pessis, MD, acknowledged uncertainty both on Capitol Hill and in the surgical suite. Urologists are ahead of most other physician specialists when it comes to the coordination of advocacy efforts, however, and this has resulted in successful campaigns across the country.

    The interests of the urologic community were also specifically addressed in a session covering NPP scope of practice. Kay Colella, MSN, ANP-BC, CURN, a nurse practitioner for urology at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, and Urological Association of Physician Assistants President Ken Mitchell, MPAS, PA-C, explained that urologists have lagged behind many physicians in utilizing NPPs. While patient safety is always the highest concern, the successful integration of NPPs allows physicians to focus on care that requires their full expertise and creates new revenue possibilities.

    A panel of urologists from across the country shared lessons learned in the trenches of advocacy campaigns on prostate cancer screening, medical practice freedom, and integrated billing of pathology services. Similarly, conference attendees learned where urologists fit in shared savings and coordinated models of care delivery and reimbursement.

    Two high-ranking state officials also took part in the conference. New Jersey Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., MD, accepted the organization’s Distinguished Leadership Award, having been nominated by urologists in the Garden State for his work promoting the interests of patients and physicians in the legislature. Oklahoma Secretary of State Glenn Coffee presented the Charles Hoffman Memorial Lecture, highlighting his historic tenure as president of the State Senate and his pursuit of medical liability reform.

    The AACU engaged state urology society presidents at an unprecedented level during the 2012 conference. Under the leadership of 2012-2013 AACU President Dr. Austenfeld and President-elect Dr. Pelman, this outreach will grow. What’s more, the AACU State Society Network will continue to utilize its network of physician representatives to promote grassroots advocacy in Halls of Power throughout the country.

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