State Affiliate Council Evolves to Meet Member Needs

State Affiliate Council Evolves to Meet Member Needs

ASCO’s State Affiliate Council (SAC) was established in January 2012 to serve as an advisory group to ASCO’s Board of Directors on issues relating to ASCO’s State and Regional Affiliates and their members. Each Affiliate has two seats on the Council—one for a physician representative and one for an executive staff member. The Council collaborates with and supports effective communication between the ASCO Board of Directors and ASCO’s domestic membership. The Council also identifies unaddressed needs and develops consensus for Board consideration.

“The original mission of the ASCO State Affiliate Council was to provide advice to the ASCO Board of Directors on unaddressed issues that impact oncology care at the state and local level,” said Paul Celano, MD, FACP, chair of the State Affiliate Council. “It’s now clear that ASCO, through the State Affiliate Council, must be more proactive in the local advocacy in both legislative and insurance concerns.”

2015–2016 Meetings

In a continued effort to meet the needs of ASCO’s Affiliates and their members, the State Affiliate Council has held regular meetings in the fall and spring to discuss a number of topics including payment reform, the proliferation of clinical pathways, MACRA implementation, and other issues related to practicing oncology.

“As all politics are local, the State Affiliate Council has the potential to be a central force to assist ASCO state affiliate societies and their members in advocacy issues,” Dr. Celano said. “The State Affiliate Council seeks to be a nimble and responsive organization. We will harness the great depth of support of ASCO on oncology health care policy and provide real-time action in meeting the needs of our patients at the local level.”

A focus group of 11 State Affiliate Council members met at ASCO headquarters in January 2016. The focus group was held in direct response to the feedback staff received during the October 2015 meeting from Council members wanting more advocacy support and guidance on federal- and state-level issues impacting the practice of oncology.

As a result of these meetings, a number of steps are being taken to better address the needs of the Affiliates:

  • ASCO advocacy staff implemented a state legislative and regulatory tracking service to better track and respond to state issues.
  • Advocacy staff is available to assist Affiliates with policy issues of concern by providing ASCO policy materials, letters and testimony, grassroots communications, and media support.
  • ASCO staff is working with the SAC Executive Subcommittee to improve tracking and response to Affiliate inquiries.
  • State Affiliate listserv options are being investigated to provide the Affiliates with an improved ability to share and seek information from each other and from ASCO.
  • More advocacy- and policy-focused articles will be included in the Latest News for State Affiliates weekly e-newsletter that can be repurposed by Affiliates in their member communications.
  • There will be continued support for in-district meetings and regularly scheduled Capitol Hill fly-ins.
  • The council chair is now invited to participate in all future ASCO Board of Director meetings to give the chair additional opportunities to engage the Board on issues relevant to ASCO’s State Affiliates.
  • The chairs of the State Affiliate Council and Clinical Practice Committee are now invited to participate in quarterly calls with the community oncologists serving on the Board. These calls will better prepare our Board representatives to address and support the issues most relevant to practicing oncologists.

Visit  ASCO’s State Affiliate Council website for more information.

–Alana Williams