Don’t let the word ‘new’ throw you off — the Advocacy Council of ACAAI is comprised of the same team of experts who served you as the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (JCAAI) for 40 years. Over those four decades, they’ve fought for our specialty and protected our practices. The Advocacy Council team has deep roots in advocacy and decades of experience with allergy, asthma and immunology issues. As we look toward our future with the Advocacy Council, it seems like the perfect time to highlight our teams’ experience and accomplishments and see what’s coming next.
J. Allen Meadows MD, FACAAI, Chair
J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI, is a clinical instructor of internal medicine and family practice at the University of Birmingham, and a solo community-based practitioner at the Alabama Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Montgomery, Ala. He has been heavily involved in advocacy, especially in-person, throughout his career. He was president of the JCAAI until it became part of the College in March, past JCAAI secretary and has been chair of the Allergy Strike Force since its inception. “I’ve been involved in advocacy and political campaigns literally since I could walk,” said Dr. Meadows.
While at the JCAAI, he worked hard to convince the board that in-person advocacy efforts - such as the Allergy Strike Force - were crucial and needed to be continued. Now, he’s looking forward to the strongest Allergy Strike Force ever. “We will have a record number of doctors participating in visits on Capitol Hill this May. We will be advocating for the value of allergy care, the need to have allergists in all health care panels, funding for allergy GME training and correction of the SGR problem once and for all.”
“And more good things are on the horizon. The move to the new Advocacy Council gives members a lot to look forward to,” said Dr. Meadows. “We will offer the same excellent services the JCAAI offered for decades - plus some new ones. The support of the College will allow us to move into areas we were not able to in the past. I expect we will be able to offer even more assistance to College members so they can more easily solve local matters themselves.”
Stephen Imbeau MD, FACAAI, Vice Chair
Stephen Imbeau, MD, FACAAI, is assistant clinical professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and one of the founders of the Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center in Florence, S.C. He served on the JCAAI board for 14 years, including as president and has been a member of the Allergy Strike Force since its inception. He is on the Board of Directors of the AMA’s bipartisan political action committee, AMPAC. For his efforts on behalf of his patients and the specialty, Dr. Imbeau has been honored by both the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives. He has always been politically active, staying heavily involved in local, state and national politics for nearly 30 years. He has worked as a campaign volunteer in more than 10 local races, eight state races and nine national races, including three Presidential campaigns. “Six out of eight of our South Carolina Federal Legislators have been to my home and three have been overnight house guests,” said Dr. Imbeau.
During his time with the JCAAI, he was able to participate in several key advocacy actions. “I’m proud to have been a part of the settlement of “black box” warning issues, modifier misuse, the compounding issue with the United States Pharmacopeia and to have been a part of the implementation of the allergenic extract/ media fill testing program and certification,” said Dr. Imbeau.
With all College members now receiving the support of the new Advocacy Council, Dr. Imbeau wants to generate awareness of this new member benefit. “We’re going to make sure the Advocacy Council becomes the “go-to” resource for members seeking education and resources regarding coding, reimbursement and advocacy. We will offer the same excellent services the JCAAI offered for decades — plus some new ones.”
James L. Sublett, MD, FACAAI, Executive Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
James L. Sublett, MD, former ACAAI president, recently joined the Advocacy Council team as the Executive Director, Advocacy and Governmental Affairs. He is also a past-president of the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (JCAAI) and has provided invaluable guidance over the years. He is the co-founder and managing partner of his practice in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s served as a clinical professor and Section Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine for more than 20 years. His knowledge and experience will help to guide us through the myriad of changes to medicine and our practices.
Gary Gross, MD, FACAAI, Coding Expert
Gary Gross, MD, FACAAI, currently practices at the Dallas Allergy & Asthma Center in Dallas. He served as a JCAAI board member from 1998 and served as executive vice president since 2003. Working alongside Dr. Aaronson, he was a crucial part of implementing some of the current CPT codes allergists use today.
Having worked on many important issues, Dr. Gross knows that the resources the Advocacy Council provides are needed now more than ever. “We have been able to make great strides with coding and reimbursement issues, but more change is coming. Luckily, the Advocacy Council has some incredible resources - like Dr. Aaronson - to help our members,” said Dr. Gross.
There is more to look forward to than just help understanding coding, however. “Members are going to have access to even more tools and tips on practice management thanks to the combined strengths of the College and the Advocacy Council team.” He is looking forward to the Advocacy Council being able to reach out to younger members. “In this changing health care environment, it’s more important than ever that younger allergists learn about the issues affecting their specialty. The Advocacy Council is going to be there to help them navigate this new health care system and give them the resources they need to make their voices heard where it counts.”
Rebecca Burke, JD, Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville
Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville (PPSV), a Washington, D.C.-based law firm focusing on health care, education and tax-exempt organizations, has been JCAAI’s legal and regulatory counsel since the mid-eighties.
Rebecca Burke, JD, and her colleagues at PPSV have advised the JCAAI on issues such as Medicare reimbursement, valuation of allergy services before the AMA RUC, development of new CPT codes, best coding practices, HIPAA privacy rules, coverage and payment issues involving government and commercial payers, and appealing payment denials. Burke has more than 30 years of health care law experience, specifically in regulatory and reimbursement services. She has represented the JCAAI before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in addition to other federal agencies, on a variety of important issues. “Rebecca really brings a different perspective to the team,” said Dr. Aaronson, “She is able to look at other points of view when examining issues, and her experience working closely with the AMA is invaluable.”
Bill Finerfrock, Capitol Associates
Capitol Associates, a well-respected health care advocacy firm with decades of experience and a track record of success in Washington D.C., worked with the JCAAI for more than 25 years.
Dealing exclusively in health care, Capitol Associates has the right expertise to ensure that members’ voices are heard. “We have a lot of experience with Congress and the various governmental agencies. We know how the process works - how to craft the right message, how to maximize resonance on Capitol Hill. We know who to reach out to and how to get things done when there are problems that need solving,” said Bill Finerfrock. The years of experience that Capitol Associates had with the JCAAI will now benefit members exclusively. “We understand that not all physicians are the same, and that the challenges that face allergy/immunology specialists aren’t the same as the ones facing other doctors. Capitol Associates has a lot of historical knowledge and familiarity with the allergy/immunology specialty, and is acutely aware of the unique challenges allergists come up against. Because we understand the nuances of the specialty and have this knowledge, we’re able to communicate that to Congress,” said Finerfrock. Capitol Associates worked closely with the JCAAI around the 2013 compounding issue. Without the intervention of the JCAAI, allergists would have been prevented from mixing extracts in-office. Capitol Associates continues to provide invaluable assistance to the Advocacy Council as the compounding issue continues.
Finerfrock is the newest member to the Advocacy Council team, but has worked in health care advocacy for more than 30 years. “I’ve been involved with stakeholders in all aspects of health care, from individual providers to hospitals, to clinics and organizations representing all branches of health care. I’m familiar with everything from the back office to Medicare payment and reimbursement - and I’m glad to be bringing all of that experience to the Advocacy Council.”