This year, The Endocrine Society’s advocacy agenda intentionally focuses on broad, complex issues that require ongoing effort to influence policy, so it’s fairly constant from year to year. As was the case in 2012, biomedical research funding, diabetes, endocrinologist access and reimbursement, endocrinologist workforce issues, minority health disparities, and obesity are the 2013 priorities. The Endocrine Society’s Council recently approved the agenda, which was developed by the Society’s Advocacy and Public Outreach Core Committee.
In 2013, the Society will develop new strategies and tactics in each of the core areas identified to further advance its goals on behalf of its members.
The Society also will remain active on a number of other, more narrowly focused issues that impact endocrinologists, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, bioidentical hormone regulation, DXA payment cuts, rare cancers, women’s health issues, and regulatory burdens.
Biomedical Research Funding
Because increasing funding for biomedical research remains a top advocacy priority, the Society will continue to work closely with congressional appropriators and President Obama’s administration to advocate for steady, sustainable increases for federal agencies that fund biomedical research and to protect those agencies from the potentially devastating effects of sequestration. The Society will also maintain its leadership role in a number of coalitions that are working toward the same goal.
As the incidence of diabetes continues to rise, endocrinologists must spend an increasing amount of their time treating patients who suffer from diabetes and diabetes-related complications. The Society has consistently worked to address this epidemic by advocating for greater patient and physician education, improved screening programs, increased research funding to identify new treatments, and increased payments to physicians who treat these patients.
Access and Reimbursement
Despite much support among members of Congress to identify a replacement for the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, the $300 billion cost is a deterrent to many during times of fiscal constraint. Flaws in the SGR are responsible for recurring large physician Medicare payment cuts that must be averted by an annual act of Congress. The Society will continue to be active in the medical community’s efforts to replace the SGR and will also devote its energy to other issues that affect patient access to care by endocrinologists.
The endocrinologist workforce faces challenges in both its research and clinical arms. Researchers must compete for a dwindling pool of research funds, while working through the numerous regulatory burdens that dictate how they conduct their research. The Society will continue to work closely with the administration, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies to emphasize the importance of endocrine research and its central role in finding treatments and cures for today’s most vexing health issues. The Society will also advance its efforts to ease the regulatory burdens associated with research and identify additional funding opportunities.
Physicians are being required to expand their patient loads as the endocrinologist workforce struggles under increasing demand. The Society will use the findings of its ongoing workforce study to inform policymakers and to identify solutions to the projected shortage of endocrinologists. The Society will also maintain its commitment to advocating for payments that recognize the value of care provided by endocrinologists.
Minority Health Disparities
Endocrine diseases and disorders are among those with the highest degree of disparities in prevalence and outcomes between minority groups and nonminorities, and the Society has long played an active role in public policy designed to address health-care disparities. In follow-up to its 2007 white paper on minority participation in clinical research, the Society has solidified its position as a thought leader on health disparities through the publication in 2012 of a Scientific Statement on health disparities in endocrine disorders.
Moving forward, the Society will focus on advancing the recommendations of the white paper and Scientific Statement as well as the goals that were identified through the March 2013 Reducing Health Disparities in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Summit.
The Society has been a leading resource for legislators since the issue of obesity was first addressed in Congress. Th rough the Society’s position statement on pediatric obesity, the Society will continue to work with policymakers to implement meaningful changes.
Th rough its advocacy work, the Society has established itself as one of the preeminent sources of information on these issues, and it will continue to build awareness about issues that impact endocrinologists and the patients that they treat. Watch for future updates on these issues in Endocrine Insider, and for opportunities to get involved in grassroots advocacy.