Frank B. Kelly, MD (right), welcomes former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to the NOLC.


Published 6/1/2008
Lindsay Law

Another Medicare quick fix is not the answer

NOLC participants deliver strong message to Congress

More than 200 orthopaedic surgeons from around the country converged in Washington, D.C., April 30–May 2, as part of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC). The message they delivered to Congress was emphatic: It’s time for a permanent fix to the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula. “Another Medicare quick fix is not the answer,” said AAOS President Tony Rankin, MD.

Attendees participated in a variety of educational briefings in preparation for congressional visits. During the meetings, they hoped to convince their senators and representatives to take two actions: fix the SGR formula and support the “Access to America’s Orthopaedic Services Act of 2008” (AAOS bill), which is being sponsored by Reps. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., and Mike Burgess, R-Texas.

Video, Gingrich lend support
On the evening before the NOLC Hill visits, staff from the AAOS office of government relations conducted a training session. Participants were given “leave-behind” fact sheets and information on the best ways to present the AAOS positions. To supplement this year’s training session, a new video—prepared by the Advocacy Resource Committee and featuring David Teuscher, MD; Scott B. Scutchfield, MD; and Samir Mehta, MD—debuted.

The video includes step-by-step instructions on how to conduct a successful visit with members of Congress as well as a mock Hill visit. Sen. John A. Barrasso, MD, R-Wyo., and Rep. Tom Price, MD, R-Ga., the only two orthopaedic surgeons serving in Congress, provided commentary on the importance of personal lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. The video is also useful for lobbying on the state level; AAOS members can view it by visiting the AAOS government relations Web site (, clicking on the link to the NOLC, and selecting “How to conduct a Capitol Hill visit.”

Following the training session, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke to NOLC attendees about the importance of advocacy, health care, and his life after leaving Congress.

Frank B. Kelly, MD (right), welcomes former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to the NOLC.
Rep. James E. Clyburn, Majority Whip, (left) met with NOLC delegates, including James A. O’Leary, MD.

The day of the NOLC Hill visits proved to be very successful for the Academy. Participants visited more than 100 offices on Capitol Hill; more than 40 were able to meet directly with their congressional representatives who serve on key committees.

Alternative healthcare policies
The NOLC general session serves to provide attendees with a wealth of information on various topics. This year, the discussions focused on the future of healthcare reform, including healthcare reform on the state level, alternative approaches to medical liability reform, and the Canadian healthcare experience.

Rep. Burgess, one of the featured speakers, addressed the possibility of a definite fix to the SGR during the current session. In his viewpoint, a long-term fix is unlikely during this session, but several options exist for addressing the problem. (See “Burgess brings unique view to NOLC” on page 35.)

A town hall meeting with George Allen, the former governor of Virginia, generated a lively discussion about the future of health care in America.

NOLC sponsors event
On May 1, many NOLC participants attended a joint fundraiser with Sen. Barrasso and Rep. Price, which proved to be the most successful fundraiser in NOLC history. In addition to spending personal time with attendees, the two orthopaedic surgeons shared their stories of how involvement in politics led to their current positions. They also stressed the importance of orthopaedic surgeons’ developing an ongoing conversation with members of Congress and their staffs to elevate the visibility and attention to issues of concern to the orthopaedic community.

Lindsay Law is communications manager in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at