ASCA Members Host Virtual Facility Tours
Advocacy continues despite the pandemic
BY ADAM PARKER | OCTOBER 2020
Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, ASCA and its members have adapted to continue their vital advocacy efforts. In August, ASCA rolled out its virtual tour program, which replaced the in-person facility tours. The facility tours serve as one of the central methods of educating lawmakers about the ASC model and the benefits it provides to patients, communities and the Medicare system. Beyond satisfying our new need for social distancing, the virtual tour program has provided both ASCA members and their lawmakers with a convenient new way to communicate and educate each other and build meaningful relationships.
The virtual tours are conducted through common meeting software, such as Zoom and Microsoft teams, and are based on ASCA’s tailored tour presentation slide deck, which includes educational material about the footprint of the ASC industry, discussion framework and a walk-through of the tour host’s facility. These presentations allow ASCA members to familiarize their member(s) of Congress with their facilities and their impact on the local community, congressional district and state.
ASCA member tours typically center around the impact that COVID-19 had in the beginning of the pandemic on the host facility and its continuing effects. As many facilities face shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and diminished caseloads, it is vital that facilities have the opportunity to have conversations with the decision-makers who deliberate on the possibilities of additional federal stimulus and potential renewal of restrictions on elective surgeries.
Recapping ASCA’s Virtual Tours
Since its rollout in August, ASCA members have held 11 virtual tours with members of Congress in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate and their staff. Tour participants have included members across the geographic and political spectrum all of whom were eager to learn more about the steps taken by the ASC community to help combat the pandemic, provide invaluable services in a safe setting and remain engines of their local economy.
In mid-September, Karen Reiter, chief executive officer (CEO) of DISC Surgery Center at Newport Beach in Newport Beach, California, led a virtual tour of her ASC for the health policy team members of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Reiter provided the team a background of the ASC industry, including the migration of elective surgery to the ASC setting and the services the ASC provides, highlighting the aid the center provided to the Los Angeles area in the early months of the pandemic. She also raised concerns with reimbursement issues facing the industry and the lasting effects that the pandemic has had on the facility.
Christopher Price, medical director, Sami Spencer, CEO and Kelly O’Brien, clinical director of Missoula Bone & Joint (MBJ) in Missoula, Montana, had the opportunity to lead a virtual tour of their facility in late September for Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and his team. During the tour, MBJ staff provided an overview of their facility and the ASC industry. They described their experience during the pandemic serving patients, staffing their facility, dealing with the cuts to their case volume and the myriad safety changes they have made to ensure the safety of their patients and their staff. They also had productive conversations about the challenges that the ASC industry faces beyond the pandemic, including Medicare policy and prior authorization hurdles.
Suzi Walton, facility administrator and Beth Tolbert, business office manager, led a virtual tour of their facility for US Representative Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) and members of his staff in mid-August. During their tour, the ASC team showcased its facility, talked about the severe impact the pandemic had and continues to have on its caseloads and the difficulties it faces in securing testing and PPE.
"With so many families and businesses being financially impacted in a negative way this year, we were able to show how ASCs can be part of the community solution with high-quality service and patient experience, while saving on the healthcare total spend in significant ways," Walton says. "Congressman Balderson and his team were very curious to know how they could immediately go to work to help ASCs with future stimulus packages and with price gouging of needed supplies. Never underestimate the value of putting yourself out there to have conversations that matter and investing time to build relationships.”
Members interested in hosting a facility tour can get started by visiting ASCA’s Virtual Tour Toolkit and completing ASCA’s virtual tour interest form.
Please write Adam Parker with questions.