Hello there, EMRA!
What a few months it has been! On the national level, we've had a presidential election and inauguration causing the politics in our capital to take a palpable pivot, with health care once again in the spotlight in a big way. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and so many of our departments bursting at the seams in the thick of another virus-filled winter, it's easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day lives and watch casually from the sidelines as Congress starts to address issues like balanced billing, repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ACA or Obamacare), Medicare and Medicaid policy and funding, and so much more.
While understandable, there's a fundamental problem with this approach: Politics is not meant to be a spectator sport. If we sit on the sidelines, we lose. And if we lose, that means our patients lose. We are the best equipped to truly speak on the struggles and challenges we face every day as we do our best to provide timely, quality care to people from every walk of life. We, as EM residents, are the future of emergency care in our country and are the ones who will be tasked with working shifts, running departments, and educating the next wave of trainees in the very near future. So we have to pay attention and stay engaged.
But wait — what does this mean for EMRA? I'm so glad you asked!
EMRA is an independent organization that operates under the guidance of two documents:
- Our Bylaws tell us how to run our organization — the board structure, how our Representative Council is run, how we make changes to policy, etc.
- Our Policy Compendium contains more detail on how parts of EMRA work and are funded (like our Committees & Divisions for example) as well as all of EMRA's positions on issues relevant to EM residents and emergency care in general. These policies are considered the official stance of the association. Surprisingly, other than GME funding, access to EM care for all, and saying we support car seat laws, EMRA does not currently have any official policies regarding hot-button health care policy or advocacy related issues!
To address this gap in our policy and help our EMRA board more accurately represent your views during what is sure to be a heated political year, I have tasked Legislative Advisor Rachel Solnick, MD, with forming a Health Policy Advocacy Task Force. This task force will submit a set of new policies to our Representative Council at our SAEM meeting in May to be discussed and voted on. Once adopted, we will use these new policies to come up with our advocacy strategy, inclusive of a plan to better engage YOU, our members, in the political process. It is our priority to keep your voices heard — certainly for each other as physicians, but more importantly for our patients who depend on us to advocate for them in a very broken and convoluted health care system.
Want to get involved in the Task Force? Contact EMRA's Health Policy Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have other ideas, thoughts, opinions? Please reach out to me at email@example.com!
We're excited to see where this year takes us and promise to keep fighting for you and our patients. Like that old adage asks, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”