Rep. Joe Heck, MD, (R) of Nevada’s 3rd Congressional district, will be the guest speaker for a luncheon on March 27, 2015, during the AAOS Annual Meeting. The luncheon will be hosted by the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Ambassadors and the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) Capitol Club, two groups that play crucial roles in AAOS advocacy efforts.
Rep. Heck, an osteopathic specialty physician, represents Las Vegas and has more than 25 years in public service as a physician, U.S. Army Reservist, and community volunteer. His remarks will address healthcare issues important to him.
“We face a variety of challenges when it comes to increasing access to quality, affordable medical care and ensuring that those who want to buy health insurance can do so,” he said. In Congress, Rep. Heck is focused on ensuring access for Medicare beneficiaries and believes that incentives for people to purchase health insurance would be more effective than penalties for not complying with a government mandate.
Rep. Heck introduced the Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Americans Act, which ensures consumer protections and access to health insurance coverage even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. He is a cosponsor, with Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, which addresses the problem of the sustainable growth rate formula.
The Ambassadors are AAOS fellows who are “key contacts” with members of Congress. To be a key contact, fellows must have a preexisting relationship with a legislator or be willing to build one. Ambassadors are expected to make five contacts with their members of Congress each year, which could include emailing, attending a town meeting, meeting in the district or Washington, D.C., office, hosting a fundraiser, or inviting the member of Congress to their practices.
Ambassadors are also encouraged to follow the legislator on Twitter and subscribe to legislative newsletters to keep abreast of his or her position on the issues. This type of “grasstops” advocacy is extremely effective and complements the lobbying efforts of the AAOS office of government relations.
Ambassadors were initiated by the Advocacy Resource Committee of the Council on Advocacy. The committee identified key contacts with influential members of Congress, such as those who sit on the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees, members of the physician caucus, and leadership. Today, nearly 100 AAOS Ambassadors have established meaningful relationships with members of Congress.
The PAC Capitol Club
The Orthopaedic PAC Capitol Club was established early in 2014. The Capitol Club recognizes AAOS members who contribute $1,000 or more on an annual basis to the Orthopaedic PAC. Contributions can be made in a lump sum or spread throughout the calendar year through monthly or quarterly payments.
In September 2014, the Orthopaedic PAC held an inaugural reception for Capitol Club members in Nashville, Tenn., following the annual Fall Meeting of the Board of Councilors and Board of Specialty Societies. More than 700 AAOS members from across the country have joined the PAC’s Capitol Club during this important midterm election year.
The Orthopaedic PAC remains committed to offering and enhancing benefits for Capitol Club members to include additional invitation-only events, legislative and advocacy briefings, and opportunities to attend congressional fundraisers. These efforts secure access to key policymakers in Washington and help shape legislation that is in the best interest of orthopaedic patients and the profession.
In addition to grasstops activity, the Orthopaedic PAC plays a crucial role in supplementing AAOS advocacy efforts by opening political doors and providing access to policymakers. For more information on becoming an Ambassador or Capitol Club member, please contact Julie Williams, senior manager of government relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kristin Brackemyre, PAC manager, at email@example.com
Kristin Brackemyre is the staff manager of the Orthopaedic PAC in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org