Published 12/1/2010
Stuart L. Weinstein, MD

Election 2010: Changing tide

Not since 1994 has there been a more heated midterm election. The Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and increased their numbers in the Senate.

It is clear that jobs and the economy were at the top of Americans’ minds as they went to the polls on the first Tuesday in November. The increasingly unfavorable opinion about the healthcare reform law also played a major role in the voting patterns of Americans. Although the law has many positive aspects, many components of it did not sit well with the American public. Voters expressed concern about the process by which the bill was passed as well as the means used to pay for the newly expanded health insurance coverage.

Republicans running for election often announced their plans to ‘repeal and replace’ the law, but a Democratic majority in the Senate and the President’s veto power make a full repeal unrealistic. However, Republicans have the opportunity to begin to chip away at the law, using a variety of legislative vehicles. As the implementation phase of healthcare reform begins, renewed efforts to address healthcare issues will be part of the 112th Congress.

The Orthopaedic PAC
The Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) was a major player in this election cycle. As the largest specialty physician PAC, the Orthopaedic PAC is bipartisan and supports candidates for federal office who understand the issues that orthopaedic surgeons face.

This election cycle, the office of government relations of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) helped Orthopaedic PAC members develop relationships with their Congressional representatives, particularly by encouraging their attendance at events “in district.” In 2010, PAC members participated in more than 200 in-district events. The Orthopaedic PAC also participated in 237 Congressional races—210 in the House and 27 in the Senate. The PAC’s success rate in supporting winners was 89 percent.

According to a Kaiser Health News analysis of contributions by the 20 top health-sector PACs in the 94 most competitive House and Senate races, the Orthopaedic PAC had the second best success rate (61 percent). In contrast, the success rate for the American Medical Association’s PAC was just 41 percent.

As chair of the Orthopaedic PAC, I can assure you that the committee carefully considers every dollar spent of members’ generous contributions. We review the criteria for giving each cycle and make sure it supports our mission.

A new cycle starts
In January 2011, the PAC Executive Committee will meet and start fresh in reviewing the criteria for giving for the 2011–2012 election cycle. Many of you have contacted me personally during this past cycle with questions or concerns. I have kept a file on all of your issues and we will give each a full hearing in our January deliberations. I invite all PAC contributors to contact me with concerns or questions.

To all of you who have recognized that political involvement is important and have donated to the PAC, you have my grateful thanks. For those who haven’t contributed and are sitting on the sidelines, I hope you will recognize the importance of contributing. The changes in federal election law brought about by the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs the Federal Election Commission have changed the playing field. Now more than ever the participation of each and every member of the AAOS is needed!

As the healthcare law enters the implementation phase, orthopaedic surgeons need to be at the table for these important discussions. Contributions to the Orthopaedic PAC will help ensure that orthopaedics is represented with a strong voice.

For more information visit the Orthopaedic PAC online.

Orthopaedic PAC criteria for giving (Member login required)

Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, is a past president of the AAOS and current chair of the Orthopaedic PAC. He can be reached at stuart-weinstein@uiowa.edu