The ACS and advocacy:
A tradition of protecting our patients
and advancing our profession
by Kevin Koo, MD, MPH, MPhil; Naveen F. Sangji, MD, MPH;
SreyRam Kuy, MD, MHS; and Adeyemi A. Ogunleye, MD, SM
• Describes the College’s advocacy
efforts at the state level
• Discusses federal advocacy efforts,
including those activities that
resulted in repeal of the SGR and
are presently aimed at addressing
the surgeon workforce shortage
• Encourages young surgeons to get
involved in ACS advocacy efforts
From fundamental changes in the physician-patient relationship to the volving role of technology, nearly every
aspect of surgery has undergone a transformation in recent decades. Yet one constant
of surgical practice has been the role of tradition, whereby each generation of surgeons
has guided and shaped the next.
A vital part of the tradition of surgery
is advocating on behalf of the surgical
2-6 The annals of the American Col-
lege of Surgeons (ACS) are replete with
examples of physician advocacy spear-
headed by both nationally prominent
surgeons and local advocates. Contem-
porary leaders continue to reimagine and
reinvent this tradition, but the essence of
advocacy remains unchanged: sustained, engaged, grass-
roots efforts at the national and state level to protect our
patients and our profession.
These efforts have included advocacy for improved access
to care, payment and liability reforms, and improvement
in the quality of care and outcomes for the surgical patient.
The ACS Professional Association political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) was established in 2002 to give
surgeons a more powerful voice in the state and federal
legislatures. In 2014, the ACS launched SurgeonsVoice, an
online platform for surgeons to communicate with policymakers on the issues that matter most to their practices.
addition, the annual ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit
connects hundreds of surgeon advocates in person who share
key issues with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
10, 11 These efforts,
among many others, have sustained successful policy campaigns, including an effort that led to the passage of the
Medicare Access and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance
Program) Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, which
resulted in the repeal of the sustainable growth rate (SGR)
formula used to calculate Medicare physician payment.
Through the Resident and Associate Society of the ACS (
RAS-ACS) and collaborative efforts with the College’s leadership and
its state chapters, Resident Members and Associate Fellows maintain the tradition of physician advocacy.
15, 16 This article describes
recent regulatory and legislative efforts championed by surgeon
advocates and their continued impact on current and future generations of surgeons, including the following: physician payment
reform; current efforts to protect and preserve the workforce
through Graduate Medical Education (GME); and the future of
surgeon-led advocacy, particularly the work of the RAS-ACS
Issues and Advocacy Committee.