Until he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004, orthopaedic surgeon Tom Price, MD, was a member of Resurgens Orthopaedics in Atlanta. Resurgens has maintained its connections with Rep. Price over the years, and many staff members—myself included—have supported his efforts on behalf of orthopaedics.
In July, my wife and I hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Price. We invited orthopaedic surgeons from around the metro Atlanta area as well as members of the Georgia Orthopaedic Society. Despite the stifling hot weather, the turnout to hear him speak was excellent.
As an orthopaedic surgeon, Rep. Price is well-acquainted with medical issues. His interests and knowledge base are very broad, and he was able to address many different topics of concern to the attendees. Among the issues he discussed were the effects of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the ongoing issues with healthcare reform, problems at the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare funding, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). He also remarked on the candidates in the 2016 presidential election campaign as well as on the conflicts in the Middle East.
Multiple districts represented
Resurgens Orthopaedics is a large orthopaedic practice, with 93 orthopaedic surgeons and physiatrists covering all of metro Atlanta. In fact, Resurgens has offices in 8 of Georgia’s 14 Congressional districts. We have always endeavored to establish and maintain relationships with all 14 of Georgia’s representatives and both senators. This takes a fair amount of effort, but the access to legislators and the opportunities to express our concerns make the time spent well worthwhile.
Resurgens has organized three advocacy trips to Washington, D.C., and plans to make this an annual event. Each year, 12 to 15 physicians from the practice attend at their own expense. These physicians return with a new zeal and enthusiasm for interacting with our elected officials and advocating for the benefit of our patients.
As with most issues in private practice, the physicians at Resurgens have varying levels of interest in politics. Some are completely engaged and contribute significant amounts of money to campaigns. Others are happy to contribute, but only occasionally attend events. And some choose to be less involved altogether.
As in any large group—indeed, as in the country at large—our physicians are diverse in their political alignment. For example, individual physicians may wholeheartedly agree with the healthcare perspectives of certain candidates, but may not want to support them based on fiscal, social, or religious grounds. We encourage our physicians to support our fundraisers from an orthopaedic perspective only, and ask if they can put their other viewpoints aside.
It is integral to remember that our colleagues may well possess an entirely different world view, and respecting these differences is critical to successful advocacy. Some of our colleagues have decided which candidates they will support. Rather than try to change hearts and minds, we ensure that they are fully engaged with the Congressional leaders who most espouse their beliefs.
One interesting byproduct of advocacy involvement has been the impact of introducing my teenage sons to political advocacy. Access to these leaders has given them a tremendous appreciation for our government, and they can more clearly see how our system works.
Orthopaedic surgery should be extremely proud of our two colleagues, Rep. Price in the House and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming in the Senate! They consistently advocate for our patients and for our ability as orthopaedic surgeons to care for them.
Douglas W. Lundy, MD, MBA, is copresident of Resurgens Orthopaedics in Atlanta, and a member of the AAOS Now editorial board. He can be reached at email@example.com