The ATS advocates for its members—and the patients they serve—on all levels of the federal government, and with the International Conference in Washington, DC, this year, attendees can look forward to an array of unique programming centered around important advocacy issues.
The ATS is a diverse organization, so there is a multitude of advocacy work that the Society is engaged in, but one of the single most unifying issues for almost all ATS members is federal support for research, said ATS Chief of Advocacy and Government Relations Gary Ewart, MHS.
“Our primary advocacy focus is on National Institutes of Health funding, but it also includes advocacy for funding with other federal research agencies, like the Veterans Administration research program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being in Washington, DC, this year, we really hope to hear from some of the senior leadership at these agencies during the conference,” he said.
Tobacco control continues to be a major focus of ATS advocacy efforts, both domestically and internationally, Mr. Ewart said, noting that there will be a variety of sessions at the International Conference focused on this ongoing challenge.
“Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of respiratory disease globally, so the ATS is one of many professional societies that puts a lot of time and energy into reducing tobacco use,” he said. “Our major advocacy goal in the near term is to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products to effectively use its broad range of authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and new generation nicotine-containing products.”
Concentrated efforts to address clean air and climate are also a major part of current advocacy initiatives and are topics that attendees can expect to hear a lot about at the International Conference.
“The ATS, for many years, has been one of the leading scientific organizations supporting effective enforcement of the Clean Air Act, and we are currently working closely with the EPA to address legal challenges to automobile emissions regulations that would weaken those standards,” he said. “That’s just one concrete example of what the ATS is doing to preserve and support the EPA in its mission to reduce air pollution and set effective clean air standards for pollutants.”
Making sure clinicians are paid for the patient services they provide is an essential, but frequently overlooked, part of the ATS’s advocacy efforts, Mr. Ewart said.
“The ATS is actively involved in shaping coverage and reimbursement policy for Medicare and frequently meets with private health insurance companies to ensure their coverage policies include the latest technologies in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. The ATS even has an email inbox for members to submit coding and billing questions ([email protected]),” he said. “It may not be glamorous work, but advocating on physician reimbursement is an essential part of the ATS advocacy program.”
The ATS also will be working with members of Congress to introduce legislation to reform how Medicare reimburses for supplemental oxygen and, on the global front, working with groups around the world to maintain and strengthen tuberculosis control programs.
International Conference attendees can visit the ATS Center in the convention center to learn more about ATS advocacy efforts and how they can engage in the Society’s efforts to drive policy and initiatives to improve respiratory health nationally and globally.
Register for ATS 2023
Register today for the ATS 2023 International Conference! Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in the in-person conference, May 19-24 in Washington, DC. Join your colleagues to learn about the latest developments in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.