A Plastic Surgeon goes to Washington

In April 2016, Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis plastic surgeon, Dr. Ellis Tavin, joined nine of his colleagues from the South and Midwest and five residents to lobby Congress on behalf of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Although cheap unregulated Chinese breast implants were not on the agenda (where was Donald Trump when we needed him), issues of importance to doctors and patients were. The two plastic surgeons from Tennessee met with aides to Senators Alexander and Corker, aides to Congressmen Fincher and Cooper, and member of Congress Marsha Blackburn.

(Memphis and Nashville
Plastic Surgeons Ellis Tavin and Kye Higdon meet with Member of Congress Marsha

Among the issues we discussed were the need for additional funding to increase the number of residents being trained to be doctors. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 froze the number of residents while the US population has continued to grow and age. This has created a doctor shortage affecting all specialties.

The ability of Ambulatory Surgery Centers to continue to provide quality outpatient surgery procedures at a lower cost than hospitals was also a concern. We lobbied for cost of living adjustments for the surgery centers to be based on the same formula used for the hospitals.
Our meeting with Congresswoman Blackburn went over the scheduled 30-minute time frame as she used the opportunity to hear first-hand examples of how problems such as opioid abuse and government regulations were affecting the health of Tennesseans.

We must thank the ASPS and their lobbying firm, Hart Health Solutions, for arranging the appointments and briefing us. We otherwise could not have gotten so many meetings in done in one day. We are also grateful that we as Americans have the right to lobby our members of Congress. That day in the halls of the House and Senate office buildings we encountered long-haul truckers, Pizza Hut franchisees, osteopathic students, and people with disabilities exercising their Constitutional rights to petition Congress.