AACU, AUA step up state and federal lobbying efforts

February 1, 2006

Current AACU President Peter C. Albertsen, MD, discusses the role of AACU?s recently formed State Society Network, the upcoming AACU-AUA Joint Advocacy Conference in Washington, recent lobbying successes, and ongoing legislative issues.

U.S. urologists currently face a number of significant challenges on the socioeconomic front. To address these challenges, the American Urological Association and American Association of Clinical Urologists have stepped up lobbying efforts at both the federal and state level. In this exclusive interview, current AACU President Peter C. Albertsen, MD, discusses the role of AACU’s recently formed State Society Network, the upcoming AACU-AUA Joint Advocacy Conference in Washington, recent lobbying successes, and ongoing legislative issues. Dr. Albertsen is chief of urology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington. He was interviewed by William F. Gee, MD, a member of the Urology Times Editorial Council, who is in private practice in Lexington, KY.

Q What is the AACU State Society Network, how did it start, and what is its function?

Unfortunately, no one was monitoring this activity. State legislative initiatives are frequently viewed as "experiments" to determine what works and what does not. It is critical that urologists follow these efforts.

Accordingly, the AACU made a formal decision to create the State Society Network and asked Dr. Richard Memo of Youngstown, OH, an AACU board member and an incoming board member of the AUA, and Dr. P. Miller Ashman of Rochester, NY, also an AACU board member, to take the lead. They have organized urologists from 33 states to form this network. Currently, the states that are the heavy lifters are Ohio, Indiana, California, Washington, New York, and Florida.

Q Many urologists are members of state, city, or county urologic societies, as well as the AUA and AACU. How does the State Society Network fit into the picture with these organizations?

A Many state medical societies are dominated by internists who do not have a feel for issues that are of particular importance to urologists. The purpose of the AACU State Society Network is to monitor state legislative activities that could impact urologic practices. A perfect example is legislation designed to control in-office imaging. Several states have proposed regulations restricting what can and cannot be done by non-radiologists.

We think that it is important for urologists to be aware of issues that may affect their practices as early as possible. Frequently, state legislative ideas become federal ideas. It is important to understand how these bills play out in the state legislatures so urologists will know how to respond.

Q Does the State Society Network supersede the work the AACU does on federal issues?

A No, the AACU works on several agenda items because many issues, such as tort reform, are both state and federal issues. At the federal level, the AACU is working closely with the AUA to be sure our efforts are complementary. The AUA has clearly taken the lead role in lobbying Congress and in trying to help shape legislation. It is critical that urology speaks with one voice.

The AACU, however, works with the AUA to help disseminate information. A good example is the recent legislation known as Medicare's Competitive Acquisition Program for pharmaceuticals. The AUA heavily lobbied this legislation while it was being crafted. The AACU helps educate urologists as to how this legislation would impact their practices. As a service to the AACU members, we conducted several teleconferences that al-lowed urologists to ask questions concerning how this legislation might work. I believe this helped galvanize the response from the urologic community. This legislative fix is a nightmare!