Last week, 30 Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) members visited Capitol Hill to meet with congressional offices on a variety of issues facing the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging community. Forty-eight meetings were held with staff members from key congressional committees and from the local districts of the SNM members.
"Going to Capitol Hill has a profound impact on how members of Congress view the issues," said Robert Atcher, MBA, PhD, chair of SNM's Commission on Government Affairs. "According to the Congressional Management Foundation, a visit from a local constituent has a 99 percent rating for ability to influence a member of Congress who has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issue. That's what we hoped to accomplish in our visits to the Hill this week."
He continued, "We also encourage everyone who participated, as well as those who could not, to contact their representatives' and senators' offices in their districts or state to reinforce the message regarding the value of nuclear medicine."
In their meetings with congressional staff members, SNM members shared background information on nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. Explaining that most people have a friend or family member who has benefited from nuclear and molecular imaging procedures, they also presented an overview of SNM and the work of the society.
After setting the stage, SNM advocates focused on four specific issues facing the field. Members of Congress were asked to support $15.4 million in funding for nuclear medicine research in the fiscal year (FY) 2011 DOE Budget and the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. In addition, they were asked to support the CARE Act and the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2011, as well as to ensure adequate and appropriate reimbursement for radiopharmaceuticals.
The Care Act targets patient safety and healthcare quality by advancing uniform standards for medical imaging certification. The American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2011 promotes the production of molybdenum-99 in the U.S. for medical isotope production, and aims to phase out the export of highly enriched uranium for the production of medical isotopes.