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Dr. Vaibhav Wadhwa advocates for step therapy reform in Florida

Vaibhav Wadhwa, MD, met with Ms. Laurie Flink, Deputy District Director for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), to discuss AGA’s legislative priorities.

Dr. Wadhwa thanked Ms. Flink for Wasserman Schultz’s support of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act and NIH funding. Dr. Wadhwa also mentioned that Wasserman Schultz is not a co-sponsor of the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act and explained in detail about why this is an important resolution that needs to be passed.

Dr. Wadhwa gave examples of patients from his own practice and discussed the challenges they face. Ms. Flink was very interested in hearing about patients with chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) not being able to get the appropriate regimen due to the barriers created by step therapy. Ms. Flink was very appreciative of the visit and stated that these in-person visits along with personal stories about these issues go a long way in helping congressional offices understand the implications that these bills have.

Ms. Flink assured Dr. Wadhwa that she will raise these points with Wasserman Schultz and will discuss co-sponsoring the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act once it is reintroduced.

Dr. Wadhwa is a fellow at the Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, and is the AGA Congressional Advocates Program state leader for Florida. He is interested in therapeutic endoscopy and advocating for appropriate reimbursement for endoscopic procedures.

How to get involved in advocacy

Interested in advocacy but not sure how or whether you have time in your busy schedule? AGA has an array of options for how you can be active in advocacy. Some take as little as five minutes.

Letter writing. AGA uses GovPredict, an online advocacy platform that allows members to contact their member of Congress with just a few clicks. AGA develops messages on significant pieces of legislation, key efforts in Congress or on issues being advanced by federal agencies that have a great impact on gastroenterology. AGA’s ongoing letter writing campaigns can always be found on but be sure to keep an eye out for advocacy emails, AGA eDigest and social media, so you do not miss your opportunity to take action on timely issues. AGA encourages its members to share letter writing campaigns with their colleagues, as well as posting them on social media.

Meetings with your member of Congress. In-person meetings are an excellent opportunity to share with your member of Congress, or their staff, how the issues that impact gastroenterology affect you, your patients and your practice. AGA has a plethora of resources to help you set up a meeting with your member of Congress, including up-to-date issue briefs, tips and tricks for productive meetings, and webinars on how to host an on-site visit. AGA staff is always more than happy to help you arrange a meeting either in Washington, D.C., or your home state. If you are interested in arranging a meeting with your member of Congress, please contact AGA Public Policy Coordinator, Jonathan Sollish, at [email protected] or 240-482-3228.

AGA PAC. AGA PAC is a voluntary, nonpartisan political organization affiliated with and supported by AGA. The only political action committee supported by a national gastroenterology society, its mission is to give gastroenterologists a greater presence on Capitol Hill and a more effective voice in policy discussions. AGA PAC supports candidates who support our policy priorities, such as fair reimbursement, cutting regulatory red tape, supporting patient protections, and access to specialty care, and sustained federal funding of digestive disease research. If you are interested in learning more, contact AGA Government and Political Affairs Manager, Navneet Buttar, at [email protected] or 240-482-3221.

Congressional Advocates Program. This grassroots program is aimed at establishing a stronger foundation for our current and future advocacy initiatives by creating state teams to work on advocacy on the local, state and national levels. Participation can include a wide variety of activities, ranging from creating educational posts on social media to meeting with members of Congress. Members of the Congressional Advocates Program are mentored and receive advocacy training by AGA leadership and staff. Participating members receive an AGA Congressional Advocate Program Certificate, a Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) badge ribbon, policy badge on the AGA Community and recognition on AGA’s website. Applications for the next cycle will be released in 2019.