During a celebratory opening session Thursday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), the first podiatrist to serve in the US House of Representatives, congratulated APMA members on the passage of the VA MISSION Act, including APMA’s VA Provider Equity Act.
“This was not only about pay,” Rep. Wenstrup said, referring to the bill, which placed podiatrists in the same authority as their allopathic and osteopathic colleagues at the Veterans’ Health Administration. “It was about leadership. And it was important for our veterans. Our veterans so often have comorbidities. And that’s what we do as podiatrists.”
He cited statistics showing a startlingly large number of podiatrists working within the VHA compared to orthopedic surgeons. “We’re the ones doing the work.”
Rep. Wenstrup reminded the attendees of “the power of advocacy and building relationships,” detailing the hard work he and his colleagues accomplished alongside APMA staff and members as they addressed opposition from orthopedists, building relationships with them and with other members of the legislative and health-care communities.
He encouraged members to maintain the momentum of this important legislative victory. “Invite your representatives to your office. Get to know their health-care staff. Invite them to your hospital or surgical center and let them see what you do; let them meet your patients.”
Seeing firsthand the good that podiatrists do will make an impression, Rep. Wenstrup said. “We need to make our case. We have never asked for something we haven’t earned and trained for.”
Rep. Wenstrup also spoke at length about the many opportunities podiatry has afforded him, saying he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to serve his country were it not for podiatry. “Podiatry afforded me the opportunity to take part in the defense of our nation and to serve with heroes.” He remembered fallen heroes who sacrificed all for their country and their peers, including a reservist who volunteered for a dangerous mission so that two of his fellow soldiers who had children would be spared. He was killed by a sniper during that mission. “Two families have fathers today because of him,” Rep. Wenstrup said.
He recalled two recent situations in which his podiatric training as a physician and combat surgeon allowed him to help people in critical need. Last summer, during a congressional baseball team practice, a shooter opened fire, severely injuring Majority Whip Stephen Scalise (R-LA). Rep. Wenstrup was able to treat Whip Scalise on the field. Earlier this year, he was called to action again when the Amtrak train on which he was riding struck a truck. Rep. Wenstrup treated victims on the scene of that incident, as well.
“Any time you have the opportunity to make life better for others, you do it,” he said. “If you fail to do so, you’re wasting your time on earth,” he continued, paraphrasing Roberto Clemente.
He strongly encouraged podiatrists to keep up their work, focusing on their service to patients. “I don’t want Washington to tell me if I’m doing a good job. I want my referring doctors to tell me. I want my patients to tell me,” he said. “You do a lot of good. Remember that whatever you do, you’re representing podiatric medicine.”
During the opening session Thursday, APMA President Dennis R. Frisch, DPM, announced two exciting new benefits of APMA membership: the APMA MIPS app and an APMA electronic health record.
The APMA MIPS app will be free of charge to members, offering the ability to track a provider’s MIPS score in real time and see how changes in activities would affect that score. It also will be an important adjunct to the APMA Registry, allowing users to submit MIPS data to CMS via the APMA Registry regardless of which EHR they use. Visit the APMA booth (#633) to learn more.
APMA is beginning work to develop an EHR in collaboration with Darena Solutions. The EHR will be designed for podiatrists based on feedback from members. It will be fully integrated with the APMA Registry and 2015 ONC-certified. APMA and Darena Solutions plan to offer other vendors the opportunity to resell the APMA EHR, meaning you could enjoy the benefits without changing service providers. Watch for an opportunity in the near future to sign up for an early beta version.