The pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the impact of a recently passed state law that makes implementing any part of the PPACA a crime will likely keep healthcare issues among the top concerns of Missouri voters in the presidential and congressional elections this November. Missouri could take center stage for another reason as well.
In 2008, President Obama nearly carried this bellwether state, losing by less than 1 vote per precinct. This year, Missouri could make a difference not only in the presidential race but also in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate.
With support from the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC), the Missouri State Orthopaedic Association (MSOA) recently hosted an Orthopaedic Federal Candidates Forum during its 43rd Annual Meeting in St. Louis, to explore congressional candidates’ stances on orthopaedic healthcare issues.
To show the scope and reach of orthopaedics, MSOA invited orthopaedic surgeons, physician assistants, and orthopaedic nurses. They also invited representatives from orthopaedic vendors and suppliers to dramatize the impact of orthopaedic care on the economy in Missouri and in the country.
The event resulted in lively exchanges between orthopaedists and those running for office. PPACA, Medicare payments, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, medical liability reform, antitrust reform, research funding, and other healthcare issues were among the topics covered.
Challengers and incumbents who attended received a copy of AAOS’ 2012 Elections Candidate Briefing Guide developed by the Orthopaedic PAC and the AAOS Advocacy Resource Committee. The booklet provides a narrative of priority issues that affect patients and the orthopaedic community.
“I have lobbied at the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference for years,” said Jonathan L. Grantham, MD, MSOA president and former representative from Missouri on the AAOS Board of Councilors (BOC). “The candidate forum was a great opportunity to discuss healthcare issues at length with decision makers before they get to Washington, D.C.”
Candidates were also asked to share any experiences they may have had with orthopaedic surgeons.
One candidate who attended, Ann Wagner, thanked an orthopaedic surgeon for saving her son’s life following a sledding accident. Ms. Wagner, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands and co-chair of the Republican National Committee, is a Republican candidate for the open 2nd Congressional District in St. Louis County.
“It was a pleasure to meet with such a dedicated group of orthopaedic surgeons at the candidate forum,” she said. “I am grateful for their trust and support and would be honored to be their strong advocate in the United States Congress.”
Former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan also attended the event on behalf of her son, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.). She encouraged orthopaedic surgeons to remain at the forefront of finding solutions to healthcare issues.
“It has been said that success depends on who you know,” said Douglas W. Kiburz, MD, MSOA past-president and current Missouri BOC representative. “The MSOA Federal Candidate Forum was a great opportunity to discuss orthopaedic issues outside the confines of the office, a town hall meeting, or a fundraiser.”
Brian Treece is the executive director of the Missouri State Orthopaedic Association. He can be reached at email@example.com