At the fall meeting of the AAOS Board of Councilors (BOC), chaired by John T. Gill, MD, representatives from across the country gathered in Dallas to share their concerns, expand their knowledge, and explore issues of concern. The meeting immediately followed the 2008 AAOS Unity Summit and was held in conjunction with the Board of Specialty Societies (BOS) meeting.
The importance of the states
The first general session focused on advocacy at the state level, beginning with a panel discussion moderated by Richard J. Barry, MD. James York, MD, discussed the difficult situation orthopaedic surgeons are facing in Maryland, where the debate over in-office imaging is being argued in the legislature as well as in the courts. Andrew Kant, MD, shared the Texas Orthopaedic Association’s strategy on scope of practice issues with podiatrists. Both had valuable strategies that could be applied in other states facing similar issues.
Thomas C. Barber, MD, and Matthew S. Shapiro, MD, discussed the implications of hospitals employing orthopaedic surgeons (See cover story, “Is the private practice orthopaedist disappearing?”), and Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, provided an update on the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee.
The impact of the feds
The second general session shifted the focus from the state level to the federal situation. Kathleen McDermott, JD, a former assistant U.S. attorney and health care fraud coordinator for the district of Maryland, brought us up-to-date on the “paradigm shift” in physician/industry relationships.
Dr. Gill then served as moderator of a panel analyzing the election landscape. Reps. Pete Sessions and Eddie Bernice Johnson presented the Republican and Democratic positions, while John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization) provided a “think-tank” perspective. The question-and-answer period that followed put the speakers on the spot as audience members queried them about everything from Medicare Part D to electronic medical records and health information technology.
Speaking with one voice
The impact that orthopaedics could have on the healthcare issue, and in particular on the medical community, was underscored by the next panel: Laura Meyers, MD, AAOS delegate to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates; William Hazel Jr., MD, an orthopaedist who sits on the AMA’s Board of Trustees; and David A. Halsey, MD, chair of the Council on Advocacy. They all urged AAOS fellows to become more active, not only in orthopaedic organizations, but in the wider medical community.
“Orthopaedists have the resources and the talent,” said Dr. Hazel. “If we can’t move the profession, no one will be able to do it. We need to protect our professional relationships and the quality of care we deliver. We can’t afford to get caught up in partisan bickering.”
The open microphone session over lunch was followed by a symposium on the quality initiative, featuring Robert H. Haralson III, MD, MBA, AAOS director of medical affairs; Michael Keith, MD, chair of the AAOS Evidence-based Practice Committee; and Paul Miles, MD, chief executive officer of the American Board of Pediatrics. A report on the AAOS professionalism and ethics program from Peter Mandell, MD, chair of the AAOS Committee on Professionalism, closed out the session.
As always, I urge you to contact your state BOC representative with issues that concern you. You can find your BOC representative online by logging on to the AAOS Web site (www.aaos.org). Under “Member Services,” click on “Board of Councilors” (left navigation column), and then click on “BOC Members by State with E-mail Addresses” (center column). We are your representatives and look forward to hearing from you.
Timothy Lamar Beck, MD, is chairman of the BOC Communications Committee and a BOC representative from Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org