Chapters and surgeons can expect interesting legislative
sessions next year. With 2016 being an election year,
many legislators will try to advance bills that will make
them more electable and not create much in the way of
controversy. At times like this, public health issues can
gain prominence, as can legislation to help key health
One issue likely to gain prominence is the recording
of operations. Wisconsin’s legislature considered a bill
in 2015 that would have required the option of recording a procedure if the patient requested it, including
covering exits/entrances to the operating room to date
and time stamp when staff entered or left the room. The
health care community objected to the bill because it
provided no legal protections from discovery in medical liability claims.
Out-of-network legislation designed to restrict
balance billing and unanticipated billing will become
more common. While California and New Jersey considered bills in 2015 to address some of the related
concerns, activity in this area will likely increase
as insurers continue to narrow their networks. The
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
will be releasing an updated version of a model act
dealing with health benefit plan network access and
adequacy, which also is likely to generate some buzz
in state legislatures.
How can surgeons engage in the state legislative
process in 2016? Following are some suggestions:
• There is no time like the present for Fellows to begin
developing relationships with their legislators. A relatively quiet session can be the best time for these
meetings to occur because the focus is shifted from
advocacy to relationship building. The ins and outs of
grassroots advocacy are found in the ACS guide “
Surgeons as Advocates: A SurgeonsVoice Handbook for
Advocacy,” available at http://surgeonsvoice.org/content.
•Participate in a state chapter lobby day. In 2016, 18 states
will host lobby days, including Alabama, Alaska, California (Northern, Southern, and San Diego), Connecticut,
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Metro Chicago, New York (Brooklyn-Long Island and New York
Chapter), Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania (Metro Philadelphia, Keystone, and Southwest), Tennessee, Texas (North
and South), Virginia, and Wisconsin.
• Become a State Councilor in the SurgeonsVoice program.
State Councilors are the boots-on-the-ground grassroots
activists for the entire program. State Councilors monitor current bills in their state legislatures, inform the
College of current issues, and act as key contacts for
their state (see Figure 1, page 26).
•Send letters to state legislators through the SSLAC.
Action Alerts will let Fellows know when letters are
needed as part of a grassroots initiative. Action Alerts
are e-mailed to Fellows and posted to SurgeonsVoice,
Facebook, and Twitter (see Figure 2, page 26). Follow
the College on Facebook and Twitter to stay current
on what is going on in legislatures around the country.
•Attend the ACS 2016 Leadership & Advocacy Summit
April 9–12 at the J W Marriott in Washington, DC. The
annual summit offers volunteer leaders and advocates
comprehensive and specialized educational sessions
focused on effective surgeon leadership, as well as
interactive advocacy training useful in federal and state
grassroots advocacy and coordinated visits to congressional offices.
The State Affairs Staff is available to provide expert
guidance on all matters related to state legislative
issues, activities, and initiatives. Fellows interested
in getting involved can contact the state team at
Tara Leystra Ackerman, State Affairs Associate, ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, contributed to this