Resurgens Orthopaedics returns to Washington
Resurgens Orthopaedics is a single-specialty medical practice in Atlanta with 95 orthopaedic surgeons and physiatrists. As part of our mission, we are heavily involved in political advocacy on both the state and federal levels for the benefit of our patients and physicians. We regularly hold fundraisers for our state and federal leaders when they are in district, visit our state representatives in Atlanta yearly, and, for the past 4 years, have travelled to Washington, D.C., to meet with our congressional representatives. Our most recent trip to Washington took place Dec. 8–9, 2015.
Tips for a successful visit
When scheduling a trip to Washington, first make sure that Congress will be in session. Recesses cannot always be predicted with 100 percent accuracy. Our practice employs a dynamic lobbying firm that helps us get appointments with senators and representatives. Staff from the AAOS Office of Government Relations are also extremely helpful because they know their way around the Capitol and are familiar with the intricacies of many of the issues.
We typically fly in during the afternoon of the first day to check into the hotel and then meet two or three of our Congressional representatives for dinner that evening. The next morning, we check out of the hotel and drop our bags at the bell stand. Due to the distances between offices, it's best not to take anything more than necessary to Capitol Hill. We usually have breakfast with two to three members of Congress and then make our way to Capitol Hill for meetings in the Congressional office buildings.
Office-based meetings usually last approximately 20 to 30 minutes, so it is very important to be organized with both your message and your materials. Remember to hand out your business cards with your contact information as well as to pick up members' and staffers' cards so that you can follow up effectively.
When interacting with members of Congress, we find it best to focus on no more than three issues. For example, in December, we discussed Rep. Tom Price's Meaningful Use bill that would grant a blanket exemption for all physicians in 2015. A version of this legislation was passed several days later.
We also presented the issues associated with the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement bundle. We requested support for the changes that AAOS President David D. Teuscher, MD, detailed in his letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Lastly, we discussed the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) bill that levels the field between ASCs and hospital outpatient surgery departments.
The morning and afternoon office meetings are separated by lunch at a local restaurant. This allows time to briefly rest as well as to meet with members in a more informal setting. After a full day of lobbying, we fly home.
State political donations can be made through our corporation, and we meet with dozens of our state representatives and senators throughout the year to develop relationships and discuss orthopaedic issues. We build this fundraising into our annual corporate budget so that we can proactively decide which state representatives and senators we wish to support and at what level. This ensures that we make the contacts we need to effectively deliver our message when important issues arise. We frequently coordinate our efforts at the state level with our state medical and orthopaedic societies.
Political fundraising on the federal level, however, is far more complex and the rules that govern it must be followed to the letter of the law. Because corporations cannot donate directly to federal candidates, contributions need to be made individually or through political action committees (PACs) such as the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons' PAC (Orthopaedic PAC). Organizing an effective federal fundraiser that ensures donors show up with personal checks requires a lot of effort, which members of Congress appreciate. After all, we want leaders who understand the issues associated with patients with musculoskeletal conditions. If we can help them get elected and re-elected, our patients will benefit!
I encourage all orthopaedic groups to consider organized political advocacy efforts. Encourage your partners to contribute to the Orthopaedic PAC (www.aaos.org/pac). Read the AAOS Advocacy Now when it arrives in your email. Attend and consider hosting fundraisers for your state and federal representatives. Visit your state leaders both in and out of session. Meet your member of Congress, and get to know him or her on a personal level. You can make a difference!
To learn more and find out who your congressional representatives are, visit the AAOS Legislative Action Center online at http://advocacy.aaos.org
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 firstname.lastname@example.org