ABC Structural Heart Disease Task Force

Structural Heart Disease Task Force Program

L to R: Dr. Mark Jenkins, Dr. Felix Sogade, Cassandra McCullough, Co-Chair Dr. Aaron Horne, Jr., Dr. Barbara Hutchinson, Co-Chair Dr. Seun Alli, and Dr. David Holmes pictured at CRT17.

In February 2017, the  Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) convened a roundtable of 21 diverse clinical and industry professionals from government, providers, advocacy organizations, academia, and communications, in conjunction with the Cardiovascular Research Technologies (CRT) 2017 meeting. The roundtable sought to address disparities in contemporary care of the minority patient with Valvular Heart Disease and to initiate an advocacy campaign to amplify awareness among minority patients, encourage treatment and address the barriers faced by minority and high-risk heart valve disease patients.

The task force encourages collaboration in progressing key solutions identified during the roundtable proceedings, which resulted in the release of a summary of recommendations focused on three immediately actionable items: conduct patient outreach pre-survey/TAVR or post-refusal of treatment; develop a policy task force to increase education and awareness; and develop a national campaign to address disparities.

Aaron Horne Jr. MD, Co-Chair
Oluseun Alli MD, Co-Chair


February 2017 - ABC Sponsors Valvular Heart Disease Roundtable. The Roundtable was held at CRT17 in Washington, DC and was supported in part by Edwards LifeSciences and Boston Scientific.

March 2017 – ABC and ACC offered a Joint Symposium, “Focus on Structural and Valvular Heart Disease,” during the 2017 ACC Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

June 2017 – Task Force releases Summary of Recommendations, “ABC Roundtable: Addressing Disparities in Contemporary Care of the Minority Patient with Valvular Heart Disease Summary Recommendations.”


July 2018 – ABC Joins Heart Valve Disease Policy Task Force – Nation’s Top Heart Disease Patient Advocates Create Task Force Aimed at Improving Access, Research, and Awareness on Heart Valve Disease Detection and Treatment.

July 2018 — ABC Board Member Dr. Aaron Horne testifies on behalf of ABC before theMedicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) on the state of evidence for procedural volume requirements for TAVR. ABC submits comments to MEDCAC, underscoring evidence presented by Dr. Horne on racial disparities in access to TAVR.

September 2018 — ABC member Dr. Paul Underwood visits with members of the Congressional Black Caucus seeking their support for changes in volume requirements for TAVR centers.


January 2019 — ABC CEO Cassandra McCullough represents ABC at a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to advocate for changes to the TAVR coverage policy.

February 2019 — Dr. Aaron Horne meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus asking that they encourage CMS to finalize a coverage policy that ensures access to TAVR for all Medicare patients, regardless of minority status.

March 2019 — ABC joins the Alliance for Aging Research, Heart Valve Voice, and Mended Hearts in a joint statement in response to CMS’ proposed revisions its coverage policy for TAVR.

April 2019 — ABC issues a call to action, encouraging ABC members to contact their members of Congress requesting that they ask CMS to address racial disparities in access to TAVR, including by allowing an interventional cardiologist or a surgeon with knowledge of all treatment options to evaluate the patient. ABC joins 13 other organizations on a letter to CMS in response to proposed changes to CMS’ coverage policy for TAVR.

May 1, 2019 — Dr. Aaron Horne meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus asking that they sign a letter to CMS led by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) asking that the TAVR coverage policy address access disparities among minority populations.