We’re on a roll with a new year, and leaders and staff are taking on the task of implementing the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan. The first pillar of the plan is focused on sustaining our profession in a time of unprecedented growth and change. Billing and adequate reimbursement for genetic counseling services is paramount to our profession’s continued success. The pandemic has further highlighted how important billing strategies are to accessing and supporting genetic counseling.
We are working to increase the awareness and engagement of members, policymakers and external stakeholders around the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act.
Recognition of certified genetic counselors as health care providers by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a top priority. The NSGC Advocacy Coordinating Committee (ACC) was formed in 2021 and is the grassroots effort to generate support for this important legislation. The ACC collaborates with government relations staff and lobbyists from Capitol Counsel, our lobbying firm, in coordinating outreach, communication and education for the membership focused on building cosponsors for H.R. 2144/S. 1450.
This year, the ACC will be focusing on generating support for this legislation by continuing to engage genetic counselors, other providers and their professional societies, employers and patient advocacy groups who support the bill.
There are multiple ways you can help support the cause and improve patient access to our services.
1. Work with your ACC representative. Throughout the year, the members of the ACC will reach out to genetic counselors in specific districts and ask for your help with either contacting your representative or senators, or engaging others in your district in supporting the legislation (list of members below). The ACC will greatly appreciate your response and any assistance you can provide. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
2. Contact your representative and senators or follow up on previous meetings. Expressing your support for the “Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act” and requesting that your members of Congress cosponsor H.R. 2144/S. 1450 is easy, and NSGC has drafted an email that you can personalize, linked here. You can check here to see if your members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors of the bill.
3. Serve as a congressional district lead. The ACC will be reaching out to genetic counselors in key districts to help engage individuals and organizations to reach out to their representatives and senators. You can assist by volunteering as a key figure in your region to help engage members of Congress in support of the bill (~4 hours a month). You would help with coordinating local outreach to build NSGC’s grassroots network. If you are interested in helping in your region, please contact email@example.com.
4. Register for our Spring Virtual Hill Visits. Meeting with your elected officials or their staff has a greater impact on getting your members of Congress to support our policy and cosponsor the bill. NSGC will coordinate the meeting around your schedule, we will provide background documents and talking points, and we will even arrange one of our lobbyists to participate with you. These meetings usually last 15-30 minutes, and all you need to do is tell your important story of how genetic counselors help patients and why access to your services needs improvement. These meetings take time to arrange, so please register today. Please click here to register for a virtual meeting.
5. Engage and recruit organizations to the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Coalition. Over 300 employers, patient advocacy groups, professional societies and others have signed a letter of support for our legislation. Once organizations sign this letter they become a member of the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Coalition. This coalition is extremely helpful when speaking with representatives and senators who often ask who in their state supports the legislation. Please take a minute to review the list. If you work with or are a member of an organization that has not yet signed the letter, please send your organization this link and encourage them to show their support. Talking points are available, and we can even meet with you and the organization to explain the legislation. This year we will be providing quarterly updates through emails to, and meetings with, the coalition members, and the ACC will engage with the coalition to generate additional cosponsors of our legislation.
6. Donate to the NSGC Political Action Committee (PAC). We would like to thank our cosponsors for their support of genetic counseling. The standard way of doing this is to donate to their reelection campaign. NSGC members can contribute to the NSGC PAC here. To learn more about the PAC please visit this recording.
7. Invite a conference speaker. Planning a conference or know of a local conference? Members of the ACC and NSGC leadership are happy to speak at a conference about the effort and answer questions your organization may have about the legislation and ways to support access to genetic counselors. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider getting involved in any or all of these seven important activities to help us secure recognition as health care professionals under CMS and create a sustainable future for our field.
Heather Zierhut, NSGC President & Colleen Campbell, Chair of the ACC
Other members of the ACC include: Vice Chair - Antonina Ryvlin, Alix D'Angelo, Amy Sturm, Angie Trepaneir, Bronson Riley, Caroline Bertsch, Fallon Brewer, Gillian Hooker, Hallie May, Jennifer Eichmeyer, Joy Larsen Haidle, Kristen Shannon, Rebecca Okashah Littlejohn, Sandra Brown, Sara Reichert and Scott Weissman