AANA Mid Year Assembly
MTSA Delegation to U.S. Capitol for Mid-year Assembly
By MTSA SRNAs Michael Heck (’11) and Samantha Porter (‘11)
When chosen as a Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetist (TANA) representative for MTSA, each of us as MTSA SRNAs Walt Lee (’10), Jeff Epley (’10), Jana Jones (’10), Michael Heck (’11), and Samantha Porter (’11) did not realize the influence nurse anesthetists have on government issues. As a national organization, our lobbyists represent more than 90% of CRNAs in the nation, which allows us as an organization to have a strong voice on Capitol Hill. Even though the AANA provides lobbyists for our profession, it is we as individuals that help determine a Congressman or Congresswomen’s vote for a certain bill.
At the Mid-Year Assembly, the AANA staff put on an impressive demonstration of their knowledge, commitment, and ability to achieve success in the political arena. The wide spectrum of topics was evident by in depth discussions that lasted two-and-a-half days. The controversial topic of health reform is being carefully watched by the AANA. Though there are things that benefit our profession in the legislation, there are things the AANA is working on continuously to ensure that we are able to maintain our patient’s access to high quality and cost effective health care.
This year at the AANA Mid-Year Assembly in Washington, D.C., there were several issues that needed to be addressed with members of the House and Senate, for example: 1) Restoring Medicare funding for CRNAs who are on-call in rural hospitals to ensure appropriate access to care; 2) Reauthorization of funding for Title 8 nursing workforce development programs for Graduate Nursing Education; 3) Implementation of equitable payment for both CRNAs and anesthesiologists when teaching SRNAs; and 4) Reversing Medicare anesthesia cuts, because according to AANA, recurring Medicare payment cuts would amount to a 35-40% cut to anesthesia and physician services within three years.
We were each given the opportunity to meet with Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and their Legislative aides at ‘Tennessee Tuesday’ to discuss the different topics in Congress that are affecting our profession. Then each TANA representative was placed into a small group with the responsibility to visit each U.S. House Representative for Tennessee concerning topics at hand. We were able to meet with Representatives Marsha BIackburn, Steve Cohen, John Tanner, Jim Cooper, and Bart Gordon. Each Congressman was very informed, and was willing to discuss different health care topics that were specific for Tennessee and CRNAs. One of the most interesting things from our meetings was the willingness of our Representatives and Senators to understand how the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) teaching rules were affecting SRNAs’ abilities to get the best possible education experience.
The Mid-Year Assembly is not only a time to address certain key points with Congress, but a time to network within our own state and other states’ nurse anesthetist organizations. Members from TANA, DANA (Delaware Association of Nurse Anesthetist) and KANA (Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetist) sponsor a dinner every year to allow students the opportunity to build professional relationships among the states present at the dinner. This dinner has become a tradition that was started by a few very generous CRNAs. From our state, MTSA Trustees Mark Haffey, CRNA, MSN, APN and Mike Morel (’80) CRNA, MS, APN are some of the founding members of this dinner. It gave us the opportunity to meet several students like us that were sponsored to come to the Mid-Year Assembly and learn about the politics behind our profession. The dinner was a success and a good time was had by all!
After our small group meetings with each Tennessee Representative, one realized the importance of a voter’s opinion. Each Congressman and Congresswoman prefers to hear the voice of his or her voters. If we as CRNAs do not take a stand to protect our profession through continuous communication with Congress, the opposing argument will win. For instance, in Tennessee, without the letters to state congress, and perseverance of the TANA board, CRNAs could have been facing new rules regarding pain management. Now is not the time to stay quiet about matters concerning our profession. The AANA lobbyist continuously needs our support through letters and e-mails to Congress to influence their vote for certain bills. The present decides the future of our profession. So, be an active member of AANA by going to AANA conferences, writing to Congress, and donating to TNPAC.
Pictured in above photo
MTSA was well represented at the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Mid-year Assembly held in Washington, D.C. in April, 2010. Pictured with Tennessee Congressmen are (l to r) Walt Lee, SRNA (’10); Jana Jones, SRNA (’10), Chris Hulin (’06) CRNA, MBA, DNP, APN; Samantha Porter SRNA (’11), U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, Mary Elizabeth “Ikey” DeVasher (‘69/’94) CRNA, PhD, APN; U.S. Senator Bob Corker; Michael Heck (’11) SRNA; Jeff Epley (’10) SRNA; and Corbin Hulin.