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July 28, 2000

WEEKLY UPDATE for July 28, 2000

There will be no Weekly Update in August with the exception of a Special Regulatory Update mid month. Have a good August!

Patient Protections-Behind the Scenes Action!
Labor-HHS Appropriations Conference
Thank You to Active 911 Network Members!
Political Events at ACEP's Scientific Assembly


The countdown is on! There are only 103 days until Election Day on November 7. Congress adjourned for their August Recess on July 27 and will return on September 5 for the Senate and September 6 for the House. Even though the Republican leadership has extended the workweek to include Fridays for legislative business, this leaves only 20 scheduled days until the targeted and final adjournment on October 6. Needless to say, the remaining legislative decisions will be made with an eye on politics and completing their work so that they can return home to campaign.

Patient Protections-Behind the Scenes Action!

The death of Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA) and the appointment of former-Governor Zell Miller (D-GA) to fill his seat until the November election has changed the dynamics of the patient protections debate. Conference Chair Don Nickles (R-OK) knows that having an extra Democratic vote for an effective patients' bill of rights, along with the four cross over votes of Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), and John McCain (R-AZ) adds up to a tie in the vote. Vice President Al Gore would be brought in to swing the equation in favor of the language in the Norwood-Dingell bill. Senators and their staff from both parties have been working to broker a deal satisfactory to both parties that the President can sign.

This week in the House a series of closed door meetings week failed to produce a compromise. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) has been meeting with Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to forge a deal. Speaker Hastert (R-IL) has been meeting with Sen. Nickles (R-OK) in hopes of moving the Senate closer to the House-passed patients' bill of rights. Even though these talks failed to produce a tangible result, Members and staff remain optimistic a compromise bill can be developed before the end of this Congress.

Labor-HHS Appropriations Conference

House-Senate Republican conferees on the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill completed their work late Thursday evening. We're told they agreed to increased funding for poison control centers, trauma center planning and some of the Administration's request. Of special interest, the conferees dropped the Nickles patients' bill of rights amendment. Ranking House Democrat Obey (D-WI) reports that the President will veto the agreement.

This August look for the battle to move to the media especially in those states where there are tough Senate campaigns in play. These targets are Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Spence Abraham (R-MI), John Ashcroft (R-MO), Rod Grams (R-MN), Bill Roth (R-DE). Already the pharmaceutical industry has spent $34 million to prevent the enactment of any prescription drug benefits. Industry experts expect that another $65 million will be spent by the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies to prevent legislation this fall. Physicians and other health care providers don't have the media budgets to compete, but phone calls will make a difference! So, us your pick up the phone and make that call by using your toll-free 911 Legislative Network card to contact your Senators' office in Washington, DC. The message is simply...WHEN YOU RETURN TO WASHINGTON IN SEPTEMBER, VOTE FOR A PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS THAT INCLUDES THE EMERGENCY SERVICES PROVISIONS FROM THE NORWOOD-DINGELL BILL COVERING ALL 161 MILLION INSURED.


Thank You to Active 911 Network Members!

Members of the 911 Legislative Network have been busy over the past few months having meetings with their legislators, attending fundraisers, writing letters, and making calls. This does make a difference for your profession and in ACEP's legislative efforts! ACEP staff are reminded of the importance of this contact when Members of Congress talk about you. A few recent comments are:
*** Rep. Joe Moakley (MA) commented that Dr. Charlotte Yeh as lobbied him on the emergency services provisions in the patients' bill of rights.
*** Rep. Bud Cramer (AL) mentioned that Dr. Sam Heard made a big difference in his campaign in 1998, educating him on health issues and taking him on an ED visit at Huntsville Hospital.
*** Rep. Vic Snyder, MD (AR) discussed the emergency services provisions in the patients' bill of rights and past lobbying efforts of a "former brilliant student," Dr. Paul Robinson.

Other activities that 911 Members have participated in are:
***911 Member Dr. Eliott Cohen helped to organize a breakfast for Rep. John Tiereny (MA) that colleagues Drs. Dennis Silvers, Sandra Wozniak, Vivian Kane, Jim Wasco, and others attended in Beverly, MA.
**Dr. Tony Cirillo has worked with RI Secretary of State and candidate for the 2nd congressional district Jim Langevin to understand emergency medicine issue. Dr. Cirillo also worked with other health groups in the state to send out a "dear colleague" letter requesting support for Secretary Langevin.
***Dr. Steve Epstein worked with Rep. Barney Frank (MA) to send a letter of concern to Reps. Pete Stark (CA) and John Dingell (MI) on the 1-hour/3-hour call back provision in the Senate version of the patients' bill of rights.

Political Events at ACEP's Scientific Assembly

We hope that you will join ACEP staff and your politically savvy colleagues in Philadelphia at the Scientific Assembly on October 22-26, 2000 for the following events at the Philadelphia Marriott:

NEMPAC 20th Anniversary Celebration! on Sunday, October 22, 2000 at 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Established in 1980, the National Emergency Medical Political Action Committee (NEMPAC) is celebrating 20 years of political involvement on behalf of emergency medicine! Working in conjunction with the 911 Legislative Network, NEMPAC serves as a critical advocacy tool which helps to promote ACEP's legislative agenda. NEMPAC is the third largest medical specialty PAC raising and contributing over $400,000 to candidates for federal office in the 1997-1998 election cycle. In addition, one out of every four emergency physicians contributes to NEMPAC on an annual basis! If you have yet to make your contribution to NEMPAC in 2000, you may do so at the Public Affairs Booth at the Convention Hall. We hope that all NEMPAC contributors will attend this reception and celebrate 20 years of political effectiveness!

NEMPAC Invitational Dinner on Sunday, October 22, 2000 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
NEMPAC has experienced tremendous growth in 2000! We would like to show our appreciation to our generous NEMPAC donors by hosting a by invitation only dinner. Members contributing $250 or more will be invited to this event as a special thank you for encouraging this growth in NEMPAC and in emergency medicine's political clout in Washington.

ACEP's School of Political Advocacy on Monday, October 23, 2000 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
ACEP's School of Political Advocacy was established in 1998. This year we are taking a fresh look at advocacy and will have a dynamic national speaker discuss the fundamentals of becoming a successful "citizen lobbyist." If you are not a member of ACEP's 911 Legislative Network, you can sign up at the Public Affairs Booth at the Scientific Assembly.

Luncheon for New and Former Graduates of the School of Political Advocacy on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 at 11:15 am - 12:25 pm
Graduates of the School of Political Advocacy are invited to join other members of the 911 Legislative Network for a special luncheon. This event will feature a political columnist or commentator who will provide insights into the current political landscape and the upcoming elections. Award(s) for the "Outstanding 911 Member(s)" will be announced.

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