Spring 2019 Advocacy Blog Update

Amy E. Liepert, MD, FACS

The Wisconsin Surgical Society participated in the 2019 Doctor Day at the Wisconsin State Capital on May 1st. Over 400 physicians and medical students participated in the event. WSS participants were: Amy E. Liepert, MD; Brian Lewis, MD; Jonathan Kohler, MD; Barbara Boyer, MD; Caprice Greenberg, MD; Brandon Grover, MD; Angeline David, MD (Resident Gunderson); Laura Hill, MD (Resident Gunderson); Nicholas Czosnyka, MD; Azam Ahmed, MD, Kevin Rymut (UWSMPH Student); Timothy Wengert, MD; Tatiana Hoyos-Gomez, MD (Resident UW); Sebastian Danobeitia, MD (Resident UW); and Christian Johnson (ACS staff).

The WSS delegation met in the morning for introductions and a discussion of surgical topics throughout the state. Noteworthy was a Wisconsin Medical Society House of Delegates Resolution co-authored by WSS members Amy Liepert, MD; Neel Karne, MD; Barbara Boyer, MD; and JooHee Sun entitled, “Support for Quality Collaboratives” (attached). This resolution passed the WMS HOD and directs the WMS to both generally support and support state funding for quality collaboratives in Wisconsin. The Surgical Collaborative of Wisconsin (SCW), directed by Dr. Caprice Greenberg who was in attendance, is supported by the WSS. This quality collaborative has joined rural and urban surgeons from both community and academic institutions in order to learn techniques, disseminate knowledge and build referral options to provide the best possible surgical care for patients in Wisconsin. Advocacy based synergies such as this increase the impact of each member of the WSS for the betterment of care for all surgical patients in the state of Wisconsin.

Dr. Liepert and Christian Johnson, from the ACS Division of Health Policy and Advocacy, provided federal legislative updates and a review of the recent Leadership and Advocacy Summit in Washington DC. Federal policy topics that the ACS is actively engaged in include Trauma Funding, Cancer Research Funding, Unanticipated Billing and issues with Prior Authorizations. The LAS included panel sessions on the above topics as well as Measurement of Surgical Quality, Medicare Physician Reimbursement and Firearm Injury and Prevention Research. Numerous Members of Congress addressed the assembly including Rep. Michael Burgess, MD a surgeon from Texas.

WSS members who attended the LAS included: Brian Lewis, MD; Girma Tefera, MD; Amy Liepert, MD (ACS Gov.); Raymond Georgen, MD (ACS Gov.); and Liska Havel, MD (Gunderson Resident) was a resident travel award recipient and accompanied the delegation including attending lobby efforts on Capital Hill. Please see attached photos.

This year’s Doctor Day Key Note address was given by Governor Tony Evers and Health Secretary Andrea Palm. The priority policy issues addressed were Vaccinations and Medicaid Expansion. Please see the attached issue briefs for further information on these topics.

The WSS’s goal for Doctor Day is to raise awareness of surgical perspectives in health policy issues, to maintain a surgical presence, and to educate other physicians to surgical patient and specialty issues. Surgeon engagement in health policy is important to support general health policies that can directly or indirectly influence surgical practice as well as to develop relationships to order to build alliances for support of specific surgical policies as they arise. One such example of this is the “Stop the Bleed” campaign. While surgery-centric, this program has an important public health impact on all of society and therefore every physicians’ patients.

The state of Wisconsin is currently in the budget cycle with a new Governor, Tony Evers (D) and a remaining Republican controlled legislature. By having a larger cohort of physicians and the entire state medical society to support such an initiative and to work as a collective voice more progress and education of legislators is possible for the advancement of quality care for our patients.

Doctor Day is an opportunity to discuss specific policy with legislatures and raise the awareness of surgical agenda items and perspectives within the greater house of medicine, however the most important aspect of this event is the multitude of relationships that are initiated and undergo further development. These relationships include those amongst our WSS member attendees, those amongst our colleagues within other specialties of medicine, and the development of relationships with our elected home district legislators and their staffs.

These relationships and future influence are the most important benefit long term of Doctor Day, but in short-term it is a fun day with colleagues teaching others about what each of us loves as a practicing surgeon.

Attendees made the following comments regarding their experiences at this year’s Doctor Day:

“Great way to meet surgeons from across the state”

“I enjoyed meeting and hearing perspectives on a variety of issues from physicians in varied practice settings and specialties. It was valuable to hear from hospital employed vs other physicians. It was interesting to hear perspectives from urban vs rural MD’s. I personally met my Senator and Representative. “

“I learned a lot about the importance of current legislative issues on factors affecting my everyday practice i.e. Medicaid reimbursement. I was able to provide local perspective to my legislators. Each of them met with me, one in person and the other with 3 other physicians. I was able to answer some of their questions. I was able to give them examples about how proposed legislation would impact medical care in my community and practice.”

“I appreciated the issue briefing and especially the question and answer period. A number of interesting and germane topics were raised outside of the legislative agenda including a discussion of non-compete clauses which comes to mind.”

“I was able to talk casually with other surgeons across the state regarding how they are dealing with particular innovations in their practice – i.e. robotic surgery.”

“I met with a number of residents and some students and answered their questions re: my practice. I was able to reach out to surgeons from UW Madison and Gunderson Clinic with questions as well. I made contacts and reconnected with people that I consider mentors.”

“I talked about the “Stop the Bleed” campaign with my representative. He was unaware of it. I talked about advances in laparoscopic and robotic surgery. He had just had his gallbladder removed several days before and had a lot of comments re: the great experience he had; how it was better than he ever expected.”

“It was a great experience. I gained a lot of perspective. It felt great to be with the group in the White Coats. There was so much collective knowledge and experience there. The whole group of us standing together felt like far more than each small voice coming from a point on the WI map.

2019 Doctor Day WSS Delegation Meeting at the Monona Terrace
2019 WSS Surgeons finding time for a Capital “Selfie”
2019 Doctor Day WSS Resident Member Participants at the State Capital
2019 Doctor Day WSS Resident Member Participants at the State Capital
2019 Doctor Day WSS Fellowship Dinner – Rare Steakhouse
2019 Doctor Day WSS Fellowship Dinner – Rare Steakhouse
WWS Members at the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit State Breakout Session – Washington DC 2019
WWS Members at the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit State Breakout Session – Washington
DC 2019
WSS Members meeting with Rep. Mark Pocan as part of the 2019 Leadership and Advocacy Summit in Washington DC
WSS Members meeting with Rep. Mark Pocan as part of the 2019 Leadership and Advocacy Summit
in Washington DC
WWS Members at the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit Supreme Court – Washington DC 2019
WWS Members at the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit Supreme Court – Washington DC 2019

Mark your Calendars for the Following Events:

Doctor Day 2020: January 29, 2020 Madison, WI
ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit 2020: March 28 – 31, 2020 Washington DC

For More Advocacy Information:
WSS Webpage: (log-in with your FACS log-in info)


The Wisconsin Surgical Society is a chapter of the American College of Surgeons. Its purpose is to
advance the science and practice of surgery, in its various branches. It was founded over 70 years
ago and serves as an organization to effectively network surgeons for the dissemination and
exchange of information with the purpose of advancing patient care. The Wisconsin Surgical Society
represents over 150 surgeons from throughout the state that strive to ensure Wisconsinites have
access to high quality surgical care.