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    Success begets success: Urologists achieve legislative victories

    AACU logo

    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.

    Noted Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once mused, "Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result." Thanks to a foundation strengthened by direct and indirect participation in advocacy campaigns across the country, the urologic community secured positive policy outcomes in the first several months of 2012.

    From Annapolis to Olympia and from Pierre to Atlanta, urologists laid the groundwork to create a positive practice environment and protect patients for years to come. Hundreds of physicians contributed in various forms to influence the legislative process in their states. Each investment of time, whether it was 2 minutes sending a message via the AACU Action Center, or 2 hours in a personal meeting with elected officials, achieved considerable returns.

    The most recent victory achieved by urologists took place in Pennsylvania, where the House of Representatives approved a resolution (HR 523) calling on the Congress of the United States to seek the withdrawal of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft recommendation on prostate cancer screening (prior to release of the final recommendation on May 21). The resolution was adopted unanimously by the House (190-0) May 7 after it was amended to conform with the intent of an amendment proposed by the AACU. The New Jersey Legislature approved a similar measure in January 2012, thanks to strong advocacy by the New Jersey Patient Care and Access Coalition, while a coalition of urology practices in Maryland secured Senate support of a prostate screening resolution in late April. Each campaign exemplifies the positive results of collaboration among the entire urologic community, including individual physicians, patients, industry supporters, and your professional and trade associations.

    Following compelling testimony from South Dakota urologists and grassroots mobilization of treating physicians via the AACU Action Center, a South Dakota Senate committee rejected legislation (SB 74) to require the direct billing of anatomic pathology services on Feb. 6, 2012. In-person and conference call testimony proved to be the "game changer" in this case. The investment of the physicians’ time will be rewarded in the long run, as patients and the health care system benefit from the cost-conscious and ethical relationships between treating physicians and laboratories that provide specialized and high-quality pathology services. Organized urology was engaged in a similar campaign in Mississippi, where legislation to mandate direct billing for diagnostic imaging services was never considered after the AACU explained potential pitfalls.

    Just as Wilde asserted that "Success is a science," another great playwright, Sophocles, reminds us that "Success is dependent on effort." Through their membership in organizations such as the AACU, the effort required by individual physicians is minimized. After all, there is strength in numbers and an increasing number of urologists understand the vital role advocacy plays in the successful practice of medicine and promoting patients’ access to high-quality care.

    Whether you’re just getting your feet wet on socioeconomic issues or you’re an experienced policy pro, an important event is just around the corner. The 2012 AACU State Society Network Advocacy Conference, scheduled for Sept. 22-23 in metropolitan Chicago, will equip you with valuable information and skills to enhance your credentials and strengthen your personal practice of medicine.

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