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The August recess provides an excellent opportunity for orthopaedic surgeons to visit their congressional representatives and discuss issue of importance.

AAOS Now

Published 8/1/2010
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Lauren Bates

Making August count

Recess offers advocacy opportunities

The August congressional recess provides an excellent opportunity to meet with your elected representatives in your district. It enables you to further your relationship with them and educate them on issues of importance to orthopaedic surgeons. Your stories about providing care to your patients and the “on the ground” impact of congressional decisions can make a real difference in shaping outcomes.

If you don’t know who your congressional representatives are, you can easily find out. For your senators, go to www.senate.gov and select your state; for representatives, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code (you may need to enter your ZIP+4 code). This will also provide you with a link to the individual’s Web site, where you’ll find a list of offices in your district.

Setting up an appointment
Once you have identified the closest district office, call the office. Identify yourself as a constituent and an orthopaedic surgeon and ask to speak to the scheduler. Once connected to the scheduler, again identify yourself as a constituent and an orthopaedic surgeon and say you would like to request a meeting with your representative while he or she is home during August.

Some schedulers may ask you to submit a request in writing. If so, ask the scheduler what information should be included. Other offices have online meeting request forms. Follow the instructions for your representative’s office. Use the following suggested template for written requests:

Dear [insert staff name],
I am constituent of [fill in name of the member of Congress] as well as an orthopaedic surgeon. I am writing to request a meeting on [fill dates for meeting]. I would like to meet with you briefly to discuss [insert topic]. Please let me know if you are available or need additional information to complete this request.
Thank you,
Your Full Name
Street Address
City, State Zip

Because your representative or senator is likely to have a very full schedule, you will need to be flexible. You will likely need to have multiple dates when you can be available. You may want to meet with the staff member who handles health care or ask if any town hall meetings are being held near you, so that you can attend.

Preparing for the meeting
Once you have scheduled an appointment, review the individual’s voting record and positions on the issues. You can start with the individual’s Web site.

If you need additional information, check the AAOS office of government relations Web site, call (202) 546-4430, or e-mail dc@aaos.org

The AAOS government relations Web site also has “talking points” that you can reference on issues such as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), and the Access to America’s Orthopaedic Services (AAOS) Act. Click on “NOLC” in the left navigation bar to download the materials. To refresh your memory on positions that the AAOS has taken on issues, you can review the AAOS position statements.

During the meeting
During your meeting, you might consider discussing the flawed SGR formula and its impact on your patients and your ability to practice medicine. If your representative hasn’t yet signed on as a cosponsor to the AAOS Act (HR 1021/S 1548), ask him or her to do so. You’ll find a link to a list of cosponsors on the NOLC page of the AAOS Web site. Or, you might want to discuss repeal of the IPAB, which was included in healthcare reform.

Keep in touch
After the meeting, be sure to send a thank-you note to your congressional representative. You can use the opportunity to review the issues you discussed. Also call or e-mail the AAOS office of government relations. Let us know whom you met with and how the meeting went. Call (202) 546-4430 or e-mail Alanna Porter at
porter@aaos.org

Because 2010 is an election year and all members of the House of Representatives—as well as a third of all Senators—are up for re-election, you may find even more opportunities to meet with your members of Congress as they return to their districts to campaign between now and November.

Lauren Bates is a government relations specialist in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at bates@aaos.org

About the Orthopaedic PAC
The Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) continues to be a strong voice for orthopaedic surgeons in Washington, D.C.

The Orthopaedic PAC is now one of the largest medical PACs in the United States. In the 2008 elections, more than 90 percent of the candidates supported by the Orthopaedic PAC won their races. The Orthopaedic PAC strives to help elect or re-elect members to Congress who support AAOS positions on the issues. The PAC also focuses on supporting physician members of Congress and current members who serve on healthcare-related committees.

By participating in the Orthopaedic PAC, orthopaedic surgeons have an opportunity to develop or strengthen relationships with current or future members of Congress who can further the advocacy goals of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

For more information about getting involved with the Orthopaedic PAC or hosting a fundraiser, contact Cheka Gage, PAC and grassroots specialist, office of government relations, at gage@aaos.org