By Denise Williams, News & Views
An era in AACVPR advocacy came to an end last month as longtime lobbying firm GRQ Consulting LLC closed its doors and the organization welcomed a new—but not so new—partner to represent it on Capitol Hill.
For a quarter of a century, the business founded and run by Phil Porte worked side by side with AACVPR in pursuit of legislative change for the good of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation providers and patients. Porte worked tirelessly over the years on behalf of these communities, cultivating keen insight on the nuances of the federal Medicare program along the way. His regular updates to AACVPR’s board of directors on the state of affairs in Washington, D.C., even came to be known as the “Porte Report.”
Although he had a hand in numerous causes, including possible application for “deemed status” for AACVPR certification, Porte has no trouble pinpointing what was unequivocally his proudest moment. “In 2008, we were able to get Congress to establish both cardiac and pulmonary rehab as specific benefit categories under Medicare,” he recalls.
With his decision to shut down GRQ and retire, Porte is passing the torch into the hands of AACVPR’s new lobbyist, Advocate4Action. It’s a brand-new firm, but the face behind it is a familiar one around the organization and is no stranger to the Hill, either. Karen Lui, RN, MS, started working with GRQ in 2006; and in 2021, she founded what is now to become GRQ’s successor.
A cardiac nurse by trade, Lui signed on with Porte and his team out of a desire to help change CR/PR rules that don’t make sense and implement new ones that do. The last decade and a half has taught her that change at the government level comes slow—but also that it’s worth working for when patients and providers win in the end.
“I’ve found that regulatory challenges in this field are really just new doors to be knocked on until opened,” she muses. “This has repeatedly yielded an eventual connection with the right person(s) in the right place at the right time to create opportunities.”
With a nationwide network of connections to back her, Lui is prepared to pick up where Porte and GRQ left off. She is also resolute in her objectives for the future:
- Help payers maintain rules that prioritize clinical benefits for CR patients
- Remove obstacles that have impeded better utilization of these programs
- Support financially sustainable delivery models that augment the current center-based standard of care
- Effectively convey to physicians and practitioners, payers, patients and hospital administrators that CR and PR are high-value services
“I remain optimistic that the system can do the right thing for our patients and programs if given enough input from those who care for patients every day,” says Lui, who encourages AACVPR members to send letters to U.S. congressional members via GovPredict in support of bills HR 3348 and HR 1956. “More voices are more persuasive voices,” she adds, noting that this level of action requires just five minutes of time. Meanwhile, Lui is already working on strategies for the fall session of Congress.