the U.S. budget. Both have Labor and Health and Human Services subcommittees that focus more directly
on health care appropriations, choosing the funding
amounts for programs authorized by the aforementioned
health authorization committees.
The role of congressional staff
Capitol Hill staff also play a crucial role in the legislative
process. These legislative aides and advisors keep the
congressional offices and committees running. Because
members of Congress and congressional committee
leaders cannot be subject matter experts in all areas,
they rely on staff to keep track of the details about
individual topics. As a result, the congressional staffer
frequently makes policy decisions for the office. As the
gatekeepers to the members, who often have less time
for meetings, it is common to find a meeting with staff
to be more productive and substantive.
ACS government relations
The ACS DAHP is dedicated to ensuring surgeons’
voices are heard in Washington, DC, and throughout
federal agencies, as well as statehouses. To this end,
the DAHP comprises a pool of federal lobbyists, each
responsible for tracking activity in a key legislative
committee, building relationships with congressional
offices, and serving as a trusted resource on surgeon-specific health care topics.
To enhance the College’s presence on Capitol Hill, the
ACS also participates in several coalitions that bring
together similar-minded health care organizations to
pool their resources and to speak with a unified voice.
For example, the Health Coalition on Liability and
Access is a national advocacy coalition working to
enact medical liability reform at the federal level.
addition, the Surgical Coalition comprises 30 surgical
organizations that meet several times a year to map
out a pro-surgery strategy and legislative action plan.
This Surgical Coalition has successfully sought repeal
of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formerly used to
calculate Medicare physician payments and to limit the
impact of a flawed CMS policy on global surgery codes.
The ACS works with specialty coalitions to advo-
cate on issues related to cancer, trauma, pediatrics, and
Participation in coalitions has many benefits inside
the beltway, but it’s the College’s grassroots action from
surgeon-advocates that makes the biggest difference.
When the ACS advocacy team can point to the number
of surgeons in a legislator’s district who have taken
action on an issue, it can be a legislative game changer.
SurgeonsVoice is the nationwide, interactive advocacy
program of the American College of Surgeons Professional Association (ACSPA). This program provides
surgeons with tools to become effective advocates
in every U.S. congressional district and to establish
professional and personal relationships with decision
makers, both on and off Capitol Hill, as well as at the
state and regional level. Fellows may seek assistance
and coordinate advocacy efforts through the DAHP,
but SurgeonsVoice is a self-service tool kit that allows
ACS members to carry out advocacy activities anytime,
anywhere in the nation without having to set foot in
The ACSPA’s political action committee, ACSPA-
SurgeonsPAC, was established in 2002 to enable
members of the ACS to help elect, and reelect, U.S.
House and Senate candidates for Congress who are
willing to promote issues of importance to surgery
and the surgical patient at the federal level. Surgeons-
PAC plays a critical role in ensuring that the College,
particularly surgeon-advocates and the federal legislative team, are able to establish and maintain
relationships with legislators and advance the College’s health policy priorities.
When the SurgeonsPAC Board and staff
make the determination to support a candidate,
SEP 2017 BULLETIN American College of Surgeons