AMA National Advocacy Conference

Monday, March 20, 2017 12:23 PM
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Colorado physicians travel to Washington, DC, to advocate for health reform

by Chet Seward, Senior Director, Division of Health Care Policy

Physician leaders from around the state, CMS staff and component medical society staff traveled to Washington, DC, Feb. 27-March 3 to participate in the 2017 American Medical Association National Advocacy Conference. Federal health care reform was the primary topic for visits with every member of the Colorado Congressional Delegation.

The many meetings with Congressional leaders and their staff demonstrated how fluid the political situation is right now. Just two days before the conference began, House Republican leadership released a policy brief outlining a proposed plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act (it was subsequently dismissed as not the preferred approach).

One notable component is moving federal funding for Medicaid to a block grant or per-capita cap. This could mean a large transfer of costs from the federal government to the states, possibly posing problems for Colorado given TABOR constraints, and the inverse nature of economic downturns driving lower tax revenue and more state spending on Medicaid due to lower incomes.

During these hill visits Colorado physician leaders emphasized the need to protect recent gains in coverage and corresponding benefits to improved patient access to care. 

Specifically, that means that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act should only occur with a clearly identified and carefully considered replacement plan. This position aligns with CMS support and participation with more than 100 organizations in the Colorado Health Policy Coalition.

Importantly, the group of physicians emphasized the need to fix major issues within the current system, including the need for regulatory relief and leveling the playing field between mega-health plans and physicians as replacement plans are considered. CMS has and will continue to support health insurance coverage for all Coloradans but at no time has assumed that any one program can achieve all of these coverage goals: CMS backed the Medicaid expansion, the state-run health insurance exchange and the State Innovation Model grant, but studied and ultimately opposed Amendment 69.

Besides federal health care reform, these congressional visits offered the chance to discuss other important topics like Colorado’s opioid abuse crisis, reducing prior authorization burdens, increasing drug pricing transparency and detailing how immigration issues affect physician workforce supply.

Keynote speakers at the National Advocacy Conference included Norah O’Donnell, co-host of CBS This Morning and correspondent for CBS’ Face the Nation, as well as Mick Ebeling, CEO of Not Impossible Labs, two-time SXSW Innovation Award winner.

Thanks to all of the physician leaders and component staff who attended this year’s conference. Learn more at

Posted in: Colorado Medicine


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