ASCRS/YES Legislative Fly-In Scholarship Program

ASCRS and YES Legislative Fly-In Scholarship

Each year, ASCRS participates in the Alliance of Specialty Medicine’s Legislative Fly-In. The Fly-In brings members of the 13 medical specialty societies in the Alliance together in Washington, D.C. to meet directly with their representatives and senators and to lobby for our policy initiatives. The 2016 Fly-In will take place July 11-13 at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Participation from all ASCRS members in this event has continued to grow, and now we are striving to increase resident and fellow member attendance. The Fly-In will enhance younger members’ understanding of public policy issues affecting ophthalmology, and provide networking opportunities with established ASCRS members, including society leadership. For 2016, ASCRS YES members who are interested in attending are encouraged to enter our new scholarship program, which will provide travel and accommodation expenses for five YES members. Winning submissions on why you would like to attend the Fly-In will be printed in Eyeworld. Entry details are below.

What is the Fly-In?

The Fly-In is an annual event organized by the Alliance of Specialty Medicine to bring specialty physicians to Washington, D.C. to learn about and advocate for policy issues affecting the specialty medical community. ASCRS is a member of the Alliance and works with the other member societies year-round to monitor legislative and regulatory activity and advocate for our members’ policy initiatives. When members of the individual societies travel to Washington, they are able to demonstrate to lawmakers in person that the policies they make have a direct impact on physicians and patients in their districts and states. Younger members who are just beginning or training for their careers often have an even greater impact on legislators, since they will be affected by new policies the longest.

What Will I Learn and Who Will I Meet?

Not only does the Fly-In seek to advance our advocacy goals, it provides invaluable information about public policy affecting ophthalmology. Frequently, ASCRS members at all levels of their careers are hesitant to participate in advocacy activities because they feel they do not have an adequate understanding of healthcare policy to be effective and their efforts will not make a difference. However, it is the personal stories and experiences in practice that are the most powerful motivators for legislative action. Physicians who must comply with federal regulations are the best equipped to demonstrate the impacts of those policies and speak for the patients they ultimately affect. In past years, we have seen the direct, positive impact of Fly-In attendees’ advocacy. For example, in 2014, there was a proposal to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and reform Medicare physician payment which would have implemented a worse system than previously under the SGR. ASCRS and the Alliance were on record opposing the proposal, but it was not until physicians participating in the Fly-In were able to demonstrate the negative impacts of the proposal on their practices and patients in real terms, that Congressional committees began to make changes based on the medical community’s recommendations. Your attendance and willingness to share your experiences make a tremendous difference in achieving our policy goals. During the Fly-In, staff from ASCRS and other organizations will provide in-depth briefing on policy issues, and help attendees craft effective messages related to those issues based on their personal experiences.

Attendees will also hear from leaders in Congress, administration officials, and other subject matter experts before visiting with their own legislators on Capitol Hill. Speakers in recent years include: Sen. Rand Paul, MD (R-KY), a practicing ophthalmologist; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Former Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK); House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI); Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA); CMS Chief of Innovation and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, MD; CMS officials overseeing the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), EHR Meaningful Use, and the Value-Based Payment Modifier programs; and speakers from academia and other industries covering related healthcare topics and trends.

Finally, the Fly-In offers YES members an incredible opportunity to meet and network with other ASCRS members. ASCRS’ leadership is always well-represented at the event, and they are eager to meet and provide mentorship to younger members.

Find Out More

Catch up on the issues and speakers from previous Fly-Ins here; and read previous attendees’ reports from past years in Eyeworld.

How Do I Apply for the Scholarship?

U.S. Resident and Fellow members of ASCRS are encouraged to apply for a 2016 Legislative Fly-In Scholarship. A subcommittee made up of members of the ASCRS Government Relations Committee and the YES Committee will review the applications and award the scholarships to five applicants who demonstrate an interest in public policy and desire to advocate on behalf of the profession. Applicants are required to submit an application through ASCRS’ online submission system. Applicants must provide their home and/or voting address (required for Capitol Hill meetings), a current CV, and write a short, no more than 500 word response to why they would like to attend the Fly-In. This scholarship is only available to ASCRS members who reside in the United States.

Entries from the scholarship recipients will be printed in Eyeworld magazine. Scholarship recipients will also be asked to share their experiences on Capitol Hill in a post-Fly-In article.

Submit Your Application

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Allison Madson, manager of PAC and grassroots, at amadson@ascrs.org or 703-591-2220.