By Chioma Ihunnah Anjou, MD, MPH, gastroenterologist at University of Connecticut Health Center, and member of the AGA Trainee and Early Career Committee and Quality Measures Committee.
On Sept. 14, AGA held Advocacy Day. This was a day in which several AGA members met with staff of Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for important issues within the field of gastroenterology. The three primary issues involved:
- Support of increased NIH funding.
- Requesting increased transparency in insurance-driven step-therapy protocols.
- Removal of the coinsurance or copayment for screening colonoscopies that become therapeutic, once polyps are identified and removed.
These issues support growth and autonomy of our field, while supporting the interests of our patients.
Advocacy is not difficult.
Many of my fellow GIs are unnecessarily intimidated by this word; however, each individual has the ability and, arguably, the responsibility to shape the environment in which we practice. Opportunities to engage your representatives may be as simple as clicking a link, leaving a voicemail or signing a petition, to testifying at hearings or hosting a representative at your own institution. AGA staff made participating in Advocacy Day very easy. Staff at AGA coordinate meetings between each advocate, and the offices of his or her local Congress members. AGA also provides brief training prior to these meetings; thus no prior experience is required. I felt well prepared for the meetings with my local Congress staff members.
Dr. Anjou on her way to visit Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
I chose to participate in Advocacy Day because I want to bring the experiences of my colleagues and patients to the doorsteps of those who make decisions about how we practice. I feel that it is important to stand up for our field and our patients, lest others make decisions for us. We do not have to feel powerless in a changing field. Let your voice be heard.
Read more impressions about AGA Advocacy Day in the AGA Community.