The year ahead will be pivotal for the infectious diseases specialty. From federal funding for public health, prevention, ID-related research, and HIV/AIDS to physician payment issues, new models of delivering care and opportunities to spur antibiotic research and development, 2012 will be critical as policymakers make decisions in an increasingly challenging budget landscape.
IDSA will need your help—this year more than ever—in sharing the important perspectives of ID and HIV specialists with Congress, federal, state, and local agencies, and your local hospitals and health care organizations on key issues. If you have not participated in advocacy efforts before, now is a critical time to start. Visit IDSA’s “Take Action” webpage to communicate key messages with your representatives in Congress, and stay tuned for additional opportunities to get involved in 2012.
In the meantime, here are some key issues IDSA will be watching—and weighing in on: (For a recap of IDSA’s 2011 advocacy activities, see this round-up.)
- Antimicrobial Resistance and Availability: After making good progress in 2011, we are hopeful that legislation addressing the decline in antimicrobial research and development will become law this year. An important bill, the Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now (GAIN) Act, has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. IDSA’s Antimicrobial Availability Task Force and related work groups will continue their important work as we engage Congress, federal agencies, and other stakeholders to build on efforts to spur the development of antibiotics and related diagnostics—and to address the need for antimicrobial stewardship. (Contact your lawmakers.)
- Physician Payments: In late 2011, Congress froze Medicare physician payments for two months, temporarily postponing a 27-percent cut set to begin Jan. 1, 2012. Congress must act again by the end of February to prevent the payment cuts from going into effect in March. IDSA is working with other physician groups to urge lawmakers to change the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment formula, used to calculate Medicare payments to physicians. If Congress fails to act, physicians will continue to face periodic payment cuts, limiting patient access to physician services. (Contact your lawmakers.)
- Health Care Delivery: Starting this year, 32 health systems across the country will take part in the Medicare Shared-Savings Program, which allows Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to share in savings generated by providing more efficient, high quality care for Medicare patients. IDSA will be watching to see how these changes affect ID physicians and HIV medical providers working in different settings—and what resources physicians will need to navigate these changes. IDSA’s ongoing work to document the value of ID specialists will help illustrate the important role of our specialty in improving patient outcomes and lowering health care costs. The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) will continue to urge policymakers to build on the effective model of care developed under the Ryan White program.
- Federal Funding: Funding will continue to be at risk for public health and prevention programs, ID and HIV-related research, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and global health. Because Congress failed to enact $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction in 2011, federal programs and agencies face across-the-board cuts beginning in the 2013 fiscal year. IDSA, HIVMA, and the Center for Global Health Policy will urge lawmakers to protect investments in public health and research. (Contact your lawmakers.)
This is not a complete list, but it underscores what is at stake. IDSA and its partners will work to ensure the perspectives of ID and HIV specialists are heard this year. IDSA is viewed as a credible source on our issues, but it is essential that elected representatives hear directly from you, their constituents. We will only be successful if lawmakers and policymakers hear you echoing our messages. IDSA looks forward to working with you in 2012 to meet the challenges ahead.
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