Illinois Chapter ACC

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The ACCPAC and Our Collective Relevance
by Jay Alexander, MD, FACC

I am the Governor of the Illinois Chapter and have been so for the past year. Proudly, it's the state of ACC President Kim Williams, MD, FACC and the late ACC Past President Jim Dove, MD, MACC, along with many ACC members who have helped to change our profession. It is the state from which President Barack Obama hails. Conversely, it is also the state that sent two of its last three governors to jail, home of former Speaker Dennis Hastert and Congressman Aaron Schock. It is a state that nears bankruptcy due to overspending and corruption, and it is one of the most litigious states in the country. So what keeps me up at night? I must admit, it's not cardiology. Instead, it is the so many issues that we face as a state and a country and a world many of which that are so very hard to comprehend. I suspect most of us find it a bit harder to sleep these days.

Being a 64 year-old immersed in the practice of noninvasive cardiology for the better part of 35 years, I have seen remarkable changes in what we do and how we do it. Along the way, I have marveled at those changes and their impact on longevity and quality of life. I have also seen cardiology as a profession abrogate our responsibility in shaping medicine for too long resulting in health care being shaped by stake holders such as lawyers, insurance companies, bureaucrats, and politicians. Health care remains fragmented and unaffordable, cost of care is exorbitant, pharmaceuticals too expensive, and the insurance industry over burdensome and making decisions on care based on cost and profit.

I have been a member of the ACC Political Action Committee (PAC) since its inception. I have also had the privilege to serve on the PAC board, as well as serve as PAC board chair. I am proud of the participation of the BOT and BOG, but I am disappointed at the inability of us to communicate that enthusiasm to the Chapter members within our states.

I understand that this unexplainable world of turmoil makes focusing on our health care issues difficult but there are many minefields in the regulatory and legislative aspects of health care that we need to navigate. I have been reading much about our relevance in these letters of late and, I believe, our relevance will be determined by taking a lead role in shaping a health care system that will attract the brightest and most talented caring for those in need. The sustainable growth rate (SGR) may be gone, but we are not done. The ACC needs to assist in educating and credentialing, developing guidelines, and advocating for a health care system not dictated by stakeholders seeking profit. We cannot expect that 5 to 7 percent of our colleagues can do it all as they have in the past. We need to help translate that enthusiasm and articulate the need for all of our Chapter members to get involved.

So as a cardiologist reaching the end of his career, I may be kept up at night less than many of you by the concerns of the provider (I hate that term), but I am being kept up at night not by the relevance of the ACC, but by our collective relevance in the continuous evolution of our national health. We have a long road to travel and we need to remember how important it is to have a seat the table. The ACCPAC is a vehicle toward keeping a seat.
Get Involved in Grassroots

Through its advocacy efforts, the ACC builds relationships with Congress, federal government agencies, state legislative and regulatory bodies, private insurers and other policy making groups to advance the College's mission of improving heart health.

In 2016, the College's advocacy priorities include creating a value-driven health care system; ensuring patient access to care and cardiovascular practice stability; promoting the use of clinical data to improve care; fostering research and innovation in cardiovascular care; and improving population health and preventing cardiovascular disease.

Member participation in advocacy efforts is crucial to shaping the future of cardiology. Now is the time to get involved! Find out how you can make a difference by visiting or Contact the Illinois Chapter.