CLMA co-hosted the Legislative Symposium in Washington, D.C. again this year on March 18-19, 2013. It was attended by more than 150 laboratorians who were briefed by Don Lavanty, Elissa Passiment, Judy Yost, Rod Forsman, and others with a special appearance by Congressman Jim McGovern.
Over 30 CLMA members met with 35 Capitol Hill offices, including Senate Finance Committee Chair, Max Baucus; House Ways & Means Chair, Dave Camp; and Senator Charles Grassley, to raise awareness of the statutory and regulatory issues most pressing for the clinical laboratory. We discussed issues we know all too well: funding cuts and workforce shortages. While sequestration and all-around budget tightening has affected all healthcare entities, clinical labs have shouldered a disproportionate amount of this burden. CLMA sponsored three Legislative Symposium attendees who are constituents of several influential Congressional committee chairs.
These meetings provided an opportunity to voice our concerns for the sequestration’s 2% reimbursement cut – on top of the collective 20% cuts we’ve endured since 2011. With the growing demand for laboratory services – these funding cuts put the industry at great risk.
To address these issues, CLMA members must demonstrate a strong advocacy voice and communicate not only the damage these cuts have on clinical labs, but their impact on the entire healthcare industry. Patients are ultimately the losers, as reduced access to overworked labs will result in longer turn-around times for results that are often critical to patient treatment. Many aspects of healthcare innovation begin in the lab as we are the behind-the-scenes source for detection, diagnosis, and medical breakthroughs. In meeting with members of Congress and their staffs, fly-in participants quickly realized that policymakers were not only unaware of the extent of cuts to labs, but were alarmed at their far-reaching ramifications.
Now that we have their attention, we turn to you for help. Call, write, and email your Congressional representatives to voice these concerns – and those specific to your labs. We see the consequences of these cuts in on our labs every day. They don’t just affect us as a workforce. Despite our best efforts, they have begun to affect patient care.
Below you will find materials and talking points to use to email and call your elected officials and reinforce these messages. This is a particularly important time in Washington with a number of crucial budget decisions being made. If the plight of the laboratory is not made apparent, we can expect to become a target for further cuts and adverse regulatory actions.