I offer my sincerest gratitude to my colleagues who supported the AASM Political Action Committee (AASM PAC) at this year’s SLEEP meeting in Minneapolis. More than 70 members attended the AASM PAC Breakfast with Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN); another 25 members received a custom made AASM PAC pen for their contribution of $250 or more to the AASM PAC.
Highlights from the AASM PAC Breakfast:
- Rep. Paulsen announced his co-sponsorship of Seniors Sleep bill because “detection and treatment of OSA leads to long term health savings”
- President Dr. Morgenthaler explained that we, as sleep providers, need to become familiar and more comfortable with government action and the political process
- The AASM PAC raised over $3,500 at the Breakfast alone
We have reinvigorated the PAC in recent years as we have increased our advocacy-related initiatives at the federal level. One of these initiatives, the Seniors Sleep Campaign, reached a new milestone on May 21 when Reps. Michael Burgess, R–Texas, and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., introduced H.R. 4695. The bill adds a sleep apnea screening questionnaire to the Welcome to Medicare initial physical for new beneficiaries. We are now working to secure additional co-sponsors in the House and identify sponsors in the Senate.
Relationships with legislators, including Reps. Burgess and Rush, are critical to advancing our agenda in Washington, and a strong PAC is essential to build and sustain these connections.
Although contributions to the AASM PAC have grown recently, our fundraising efforts significantly fall behind the PAC amounts raised by other specialty societies facing similar reimbursement and policy challenges. I challenge members to deepen their commitment to sleep medicine by becoming more engaged in the PAC and our advocacy efforts.
Given that this is an election year, connections with legislators are especially important to advance the Seniors Sleep Campaign. As Chair of the PAC, I ask every member to donate $100 at https://www.aasmnet.org/members/donate.aspx today. Contributions will help millions of seniors receive a sleep apnea screening and obtain treatment for their illness.
David Kuhlmann, MD
AASM PAC Chair