This year, the winter meeting of the Washington Committee for Neurosurgery included two members of Columbia’s Neurosurgery Department.
Dr. Christopher Winfree and Dr. Jeffrey Bruce made the trip from snowy NY to snowy DC to attend the meeting of the full committee. It includes representatives from AANS*, CNS**, and ABNS***. Together, the committee discusses and advocates for neurosurgical issues on a national level.
“We discussed a variety of ongoing legislative activities that will impact neurosurgeons here in the U.S.,” says Dr. Winfree.
For example, the committee discussed training enough neurosurgeons in coming years. Some people expect that the nation may face a future shortage of doctors. They foresee the problem for primary care doctors as well as specialists. This would be due both to an aging population and to the expansion of health care coverage by the Affordable Care Act.
In response, medical schools have begun enrolling more students. But funding for the hands-on residency training has not increased since 1996. Since the residency training for neurosurgery is long, neurosurgeons are especially concerned.
Also, Dr. Winfree continued, the committee discussed “health care reform and its implications for neurosurgeons.” This includes concerns like the Independent Payment Advisory Board and a tax on newly developed medical devices.
Dr. Winfree attended as the representative of the AANS/CNS Section on Pain, which focuses on pain management in neurosurgery. Dr. Winfree’s specialties include pain neurosurgery, peripheral nerve surgery , and neurostimulation to treat chronic pain disorders.
Dr. Bruce attended as the representative of the American Board of Neurosurgery. The ABNS is the group that “board certifies” neurosurgeons in the U.S. As we mentioned earlier, this year Dr. Bruce is the ABNS Secretary.
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