The AAOS Board of Councilors (BOC), along with members of the Board of Specialty Societies (BOS) and participants in the Leadership Fellows Program, participated in the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC) in Washington, D.C., April 30–May 3.
A state societies strategy meeting for state officers and executives immediately preceded the BOC meeting. State society leadership heard presentations on how to strengthen state organizations, shared strategies for successful advocacy efforts, and reviewed issues of organizational management. Common issues were addressed, including workers compensation, ambulatory surgery centers, reimbursement, and scope of practice.
Meanwhile, the joint BOC/BOS Professionalism committees were meeting, as were the BOC State Orthopaedic Societies, State Legislative and Regulatory Issues, and Communications committees. The meetings were followed by Hill visit training, conducted by the AAOS government relations staff, and an excellent presentation by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Calling on Congress
May 1 was dedicated to Hill visits. BOC members and state society representatives called on their senators and representatives. Our primary “ask” was a short-term fix to the impending Medicare payment cut scheduled for July 1. We also sought support for a long-term solution to the inequities of the current Medicare reimbursement system, including the sustained growth rate formula. Given the current political climate and upcoming Presidential and national elections, we are aware that an ultimate fix is unlikely. So, we lobbied strongly for more than a 6-month patch while a more permanent solution is developed.
We also sought support for our Association’s bill, “Access to America’s Orthopaedic Services (AAOS) Act of 2008,” which will soon be introduced in both the Senate and House. This legislation aims to help ensure access to orthopaedic services such as trauma care and rehabilitation. It also promotes musculoskeletal research, women’s health concerns, and the issue of healthcare disparities among minority populations.
The evening was capped by a reception for our orthopaedic colleagues, Sen. John A. Barrasso, MD, R-Wyo., and Rep. Tom Price, MD, R-Ga., sponsored by the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC).
Joint sessions for change
On Friday and Saturday, the BOC and BOS met in joint sessions to discuss national and state healthcare reform efforts, including SGR and tort reform. George Allen, the former governor of Virginia, led a town hall session that was both informative and well received.
Following presentation of the Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence awards (see “AAOS announces MORE Award winners” on page 63), a lively “open mike” session was held.
The Professionalism/Resolutions committees also held open hearings.
During the afternoon session, John T. Gill, MD, BOC chairman, and David Teuscher, MD, chair of the AAOS Advocacy Resource Committee, showed how all of us can and must become involved in grassroots advocacy. The Presidential line of Tony Rankin, MD; Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD; and John J. Callaghan, MD, gave an excellent overview of the Academy’s current work and future vision. AAOS Council Chairs provided updates on their current activities as well.
Saturday’s joint session started with reports on PAC activities, medical liability reform, and the U.S. Bone & Joint Decade. Charles N. Hubbard, MD, and Fred C. Redfern, MD, provided a summary of the state societies strategy meeting. Dr. Hubbard presented the mission of the State Societies Committee: to strengthen the organizational structure of state societies. The committee hopes to achieve that goal through services such as Web site development, grant programs, and the Executive Directors’ Institute scheduled for this November. He also detailed how grants from the State Societies Assistance Fund had helped several states.
Dr. Redfern reviewed the activities of the State Legislative and Regulatory Issues Committee, which is currently preparing position statements on direct access to physical therapy and workers compensation collaboration. He also spoke of the importance of the State Orthopaedic Society Health Policy Fund in helping state societies respond to various state legislative and regulatory issues that affect the practice of orthopaedics and patient care.
Looking forward to fall
The sessions concluded with the BOC business meeting. Communications Committee Chair, Timothy L. Beck, MD, administered a BOC self-assessment exam utilizing the audience responses system. The questions—and responses—provided attendees with an idea of where the BOC currently is and what we can strive to attain. Drs. Gill and Teuscher concluded the morning with a similar presentation for advocacy efforts on the state and national levels.
Armed with new tools to advance patient care and to improve advocacy for the orthopaedic profession, the 97 councilors who attended the meeting returned home on Saturday. The participation by first-year councilors was especially lively and refreshing, leaving everyone looking forward to the fall meeting in Dallas.
Patrick M. J. Hutton, MD, MBA, is a member of the BOC executive committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org