Members of the Georgia delegation arrive to meet with legislative staff of Rep. Austin Scott (R-Georgia) during the 2016 National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference. From left: Xavier A. Duralde, MD; D. Kay Kirkpatrick, MD; Craig Dunwoody, MD; Kitchi Joyce, chief administrative officer for IntraHealth Group; and Todd A. Schmidt, MD.
Courtesy of AAOS staff/Erin Ransford

AAOS Now

Published 7/1/2016
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Catherine Boudreaux; Elizabeth Fassbender

Orthopaedic Surgeons Press Congress for Action

NOLC participants garner support for key legislation

More than 400 orthopaedic surgeons from around the country attended the 2016 National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC), May 4–7, in Washington, D.C. The NOLC, which is open to members of the Board of Specialty Societies (BOS), Board of Councilors (BOC), AAOS Board of Directors, and Leadership Fellowship Program, as well as other invited guests, serves multiple purposes. Not only is it an opportunity for BOC and BOS committees to meet and conduct business, it also provides continuing medical education credit through symposia and keynote speakers. Most importantly, NOLC gives orthopaedic surgeons the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss important advocacy issues.

Advocacy in action
This year, NOLC participants met with more than 300 congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. During the meetings, orthopaedic surgeons urged support for legislation that would improve the delivery of orthopaedic health care. Specifically, they asked for passage of the following to be supported:

  • S. 689/H.R. 921, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, which aims to preserve the access of athletes and athletic teams to sports medicine professionals who provide high-quality, continuous healthcare services
  • S. 2822/H.R. 5001, the Flexibility in Electronic Health Record Reporting Act, which will institute a 90-day reporting period for the meaningful use program for the 2016 reporting year, regardless of payment year or stage of meaningful use criteria involved
  • H.R. 4848, the Healthy Inpatient Procedures Act of 2016, which would delay implementation of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model until Jan. 1, 2018
  • H.R. 2513, the Promoting Access, Competition and Equity (PACE) Act, which would allow physician-owned hospitals to expand

As a result of these meetings, all four pieces of legislation received several new cosponsors. Additionally, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on June 8, 2016. Issues related to the CJR model and the meaningful use program have also received increased attention. For example, at a recent congressional hearing on the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), members of Congress and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials stressed the desire to give physicians and clinicians more flexibility to provide what they believe is the best care for their patients. AAOS will continue to follow up with congressional offices to build support for these issues.

Orthopaedic PAC and the Advocacy Forum
For the second consecutive year, the NOLC was kicked off by the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) congressional reception. The event was an opportunity to thank members of the Orthopaedic PAC's top donor level, the Capitol Club, for their generous support. The Futures Capitol Club, a program for residents, was also unveiled at the reception and nine residents joined as new members. During the reception, PAC members visited with several members of Congress, including Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).

Concurrent to the NOLC, AAOS also held a program for interested orthopaedic advocates. The focus for this year's forum was on bone health. Participants heard from many speakers on various issues and brought important messages to the Hill the next day.

Members of the Georgia delegation arrive to meet with legislative staff of Rep. Austin Scott (R-Georgia) during the 2016 National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference. From left: Xavier A. Duralde, MD; D. Kay Kirkpatrick, MD; Craig Dunwoody, MD; Kitchi Joyce, chief administrative officer for IntraHealth Group; and Todd A. Schmidt, MD.
Courtesy of AAOS staff/Erin Ransford
Members of the Michigan delegation meet with a staff member of Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) during the 2016 NOLC. From left: Stephen Lemos, MD; Daniel Harder, legislative assistant to Rep. Mike Bishop; Andrew Urquhart, MD; Pamela Dietrich, executive director of the Michigan Orthopaedic Society; Mark Pinto, MD; Vani Sabesan, MD; Dean Schueller, MD; William Higgenbotham III, MD; and David Markel, MD.
Courtesy of AAOS staff/Erin Ransford

21st Century Cures
Capitol Hill staffers Kristen O'Neill, legislative assistant for Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), and Brett Meeks, health counsel on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, provided NOLC attendees with insight on the 21st Century Cures legislation. Ms. O'Neill explained how the 21st Century Cures effort is an ambitious undertaking to provide researchers with the necessary resources to continue on the path to new medical developments and cures. She also focused on how the initiative will help develop young scientists and keep their expertise in the United States. Mr. Meeks focused on the legislative process and the bill's progress in the House and Senate. He also stressed the need for adequate oversight during implementation, should the bill be signed into law. (For more information, see "The Importance of the 21st Century Cures Act.")

Symposia
During a symposium on graduate medical education (GME), speakers focused on where GME stands in the current healthcare environment, the issue of regional variation in physician density in the United States, and how the current supply of physicians relates to workforce needs. (See more about the orthopaedic surgeon workforce in "Will We Soon Be A Few Orthopaedists Short?" on page 4). Speakers also addressed the difficulty of obtaining GME funding.

In another symposium, attendees learned about the rapidly evolving area of telemedicine and how to move patient care forward with technology using evidence-based strategies. Panelists spoke about the current state of health policy and the reforms needed to enable adoption of telemedicine. They also discussed how telemedicine is being used in the orthopaedic nonprofit project Team HEAL, the bigger picture of asynchronous care delivery, and how telemedicine can leverage technology to alter the way physicians manage, interact, and care for patients.

For more information on advocacy issues, visit the AAOS office of government relations at www.aaos.org/dc and follow it on twitter: @AAOSAdvocacy

Catherine Boudreaux is the senior manager, government relations, in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at boudreaux@aaos.org

Elizabeth Fassbender is the communications manager in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at fassbender@aaos.org