Advocating for patients is his passion
Patient advocacy has been a passion of Michael Markowski’s for years. Because of that, he has been very active with the American Academy of Neurology for close to a decade. It’s the largest organization of neurologists throughout the world and he has held multiple elected positions, including chair of the general neurology section, which has offered him the opportunity to work with neurologists nationwide in a variety of practice settings.
“Patient advocacy is very important to me and in this day of rapidly evolving healthcare, where new laws have had significant impact on patients and our ability to treat their diseases, I think it’s vital for physicians to advocate for our patients’ needs,” said Dr. Markowski, a neurologist with Neurologists of Cape Cod in Hyannis. “That is especially true for patients who have neurological disease who are particularly vulnerable. There is just a handful of available treatments and many of those medications are cost prohibitive.”
For the past several years, he has served as a member of the American Academy of Neurology’s Government Relations Committee. He travels to Washington, D.C. several times a year and has meetings with members of Congress and their healthcare aides, advocating for the needs of patients with neurological diseases.
“Last year, the efforts of our committee at the American Academy of Neurology led to passing of legislation of what was called the FAST bill (Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine),” he said. “That bill has increased access to stroke patients to teleneurology monitoring nationwide, regardless of whether they were in an urban or rural setting.”
He was scheduled to return to Washington in February to attend congressional meetings set up to discuss the exorbitant cost of prescription medicines, because he sees how those costs affect his patients.
“We need to start finding some simple solutions to reduce the cost of medications for our patients,” he said. “It is financially ruining many of them. Medications that my patients take that used to be a $10 co-pay are now over $150 per month. It’s the same medication and there is no reason why it should have increased so much in price, not to mention that medications made here in the U.S. are significantly cheaper in other countries. Currently drug companies can do whatever they want and there needs to be some reining in.”
He has also served on multiple task forces for the organization as well. He is co-authoring a neurology task force analysis that is reviewing the shortage of neurologists nationwide. The project’s goal is to try to predict the future needs in the field of neurology.
Dr. Markowski is also working on learning the future implications of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on the medical field.
“Medicaid and Medicare spending on people with Alzheimer’s disease was $130 billion in 2011, and it’s been estimated that this will rise to be over one trillion by 2050,” he said. “So this single disease can bankrupt Medicare and cripple our healthcare system. For this, among other reasons, we need more money directed to Alzheimer’s disease research which can lead to better treatments of this devastating illness.”