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Jacob G. Calcei, MD

AAOS Now

Published 1/1/2018
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Jacob G. Calcei, MD

My Day in D.C.

Orthopaedic PAC’s new Resident Fellow shares experiences
As the new resident fellow on the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Political Action Committee (PAC), I recently had the opportunity to visit the AAOS office of government relations (OGR) in Washington, D.C., and to meet with several members of Congress. Sitting on the train from New York to Washington, I could feel the anticipation and excitement setting in. I was going to represent the orthopaedic profession on Capitol Hill!

I had never met with a legislator before, and health care is such a critical issue these days. Reviewing my agenda for the day, I was not sure what to expect. The names on my schedule included members of Congress who held important positions on different committees and subcommittees. They were addressing issues such as Medicare regulatory relief and proposals to challenge, amend, or overturn the Affordable Care Act.

How exactly did I end up on their schedules and invite lists? What could I, as an orthopaedic surgery resident, contribute to their day? Why did they care to meet me? Thankfully, I quickly learned how vital it is to share my experiences with these policymakers and how large an impact the Orthopaedic PAC can have on ensuring that the collective voice of orthopaedic surgeons is heard.

Learning about the issues
Learning about the issues can be daunting because of the overwhelming amount of information available on the current healthcare system, the changes scheduled to occur, and the changes proposed. To start, I focused on two websites: www.congress.gov and www.aaos.org/dc. Both have a wealth of information on the many issues (medical liability, physician-owned hospitals, meaningful use) and acronyms (MIPS, MACRA, CHIP, HIT, SGR) that I would need to know.

OGR staff, including Stacie Monroe, senior manager of political affairs, and Meredith Allison, political affairs assistant, helped me prepare for my visit. I had the chance to meet the OGR’s legislative and regulatory specialists and learn more about their roles.

Every day, the government relations staff in DC are hard at work ensuring that the voices of orthopaedic surgeons around the country are heard and that we, and our patients, are protected as new bills and regulations are proposed. Staff members work as a team to comb through every page of proposed legislation and determine if and how it will affect orthopaedic surgeons. They then work with AAOS leadership to formulate a response.

This information is passed along to the PAC and our lobbyists, who serve as our “boots on the ground.” They interact with members of the various congressional committees and subcommittees, bringing attention to the issues that are important to orthopaedic surgeons. You can reach out to any of the D.C. staff by emailing dc@aaos.org or calling 202-546-4430. They are happy to provide more information and answer questions on this process.

My day on the Hill
My day on Capitol Hill began with a breakfast fundraiser just a block from the Capitol building. I was met by Catherine Boudreaux Hayes, AAOS senior manager of government relations, who took me inside and introduced me to many of the elected officials who make daily decisions on how this country is run.

I quickly saw that, despite being surrounded by lobbyists for big business, powerful financial institutions, and prosperous pharmaceutical companies, members of Congress and their staff recognized and respected the AAOS presence. These relationships are a testament to the hours that AAOS staff, leadership, and members have spent advocating in Washington, DC.

As I was about to start eating, a gentleman behind me noted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I turned to see the congressman from North Carolina who was first on my list of elected officials to meet. After being introduced, I thanked him for his support of physicians and issues, such as the medical liability reform legislation, that are important to us. I was struck by the fact that he wanted to speak to me and hear about issues from the orthopaedic surgeons’ perspective. I was also impressed that, at the end, he thanked me for taking the time to talk to him. This was a recurring theme throughout the day: The legislators want to hear from us directly.

Only 20 out of more than 500 members of Congress are doctors, and many aren’t familiar with the daily life of physicians. Although they are certainly well-versed on many issues, they are not familiar with the delivery of health care and rely on us to share our clinical expertise and the impact of their decisions on patients.

What’s next?
As the AAOS Orthopaedic PAC resident fellow, I can share my passion with others and raise awareness about policies and decisions that will have an impact on our everyday lives as physicians and engaged citizens.

With the ever-changing political climate and the increasing impact that health care has on our country, now more than ever, physicians and residents need to be more involved and engaged in advocacy and policy. If we are educated and active, we can affect meaningful changes that protect us, our patients, colleagues, and future trainees.

The Orthopaedic PAC, at $3.5 million in annual contributions, is one of the largest and most influential medical society PACs in the country. It is imperative that we, as orthopaedic surgeons, give both our time and our money to support the PAC and important advocacy issues. The Orthopaedic PAC is nonpartisan and represents the interests of orthopaedic surgeons before Congress by supporting candidates who understand, defend, support, and often champion the issues that we face. The PAC also creates opportunities for surgeons to meet with members of Congress and other elected and appointed officials to establish and maintain an open dialogue. Legislators want to hear from us. The PAC opens the door and we must go through it. To learn more, visit www.aaos.org/pac or email pac@aaos.org.

I am looking forward to the year ahead and the impact that we, as orthopaedic surgeons, can make on The Hill and around the country. I want all residents to feel they have a voice and that their opinions matter, and I want to take my colleagues’ temperature on how we are doing. Recently, we distributed the second resident survey on the PAC. We had more than 500 responses, which I discussed with the PAC Executive Committee at their board retreat. Stay tuned for a full report and action plan.

As the resident fellow on the PAC Executive Committee, I serve as the voice of residents. I want to hear from residents and fellows. I hope to get the chance to meet many AAOS members during the coming year. If you are interested in getting more involved in the PAC, I encourage you to reach out to me or Ms. Monroe with questions or concerns at pac@aaos.org.

Jacob G. Calcei, MD, is an orthopaedic surgery resident from Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, and the new AAOS Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) Resident Fellow.

An Interview with Dr. Calcei
While in Washington, D.C., Jacob G. Calcei, MD, sat down with Stacie Monroe, senior manager of political affairs in the AAOS Office of Government Relations to discuss his background and role as the new resident fellow on the AAOS Orthopaedic PAC executive committee.

Ms. Monroe: Welcome to the PAC Executive Committee. At first glance, what do you see as opportunities for resident involvement in the PAC?

Dr. Calcei: I am honored and excited to be the new Orthopaedic PAC resident fellow. I want to congratulate and thank Chad A. Krueger, MD, my predecessor, for his service. Chad significantly increased resident awareness of and participation in the Orthopaedic PAC. We began our PAC advocacy program in 2014 and during the past 2 years, under Chad’s leadership, the annual resident participation in the PAC has increased from 85 residents to 330. Six programs reached 100 percent resident participation last year. I hope to continue the momentum and see this incredible growth in advocacy continue to rise.

Ms. Monroe: How did you get involved?

Dr. Calcei: My passion for healthcare policy stems from a summer in college, when I lived in Washington, D.C., and worked as a summer research fellow at the National Cancer Institute. It was there, surrounded by the world’s political leaders and great scientific minds, that I began to see the intricate relationship between policy and the distribution of healthcare resources (clinical, educational, and research).

As a medical student who served rotations at the Manhattan VA Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, and NYU Medical Center, I interacted with patients from all backgrounds, each with an amazing story. I experienced the impact of policies at the state and national levels on the access to health care and the complexities of our healthcare system. I furthered my interest in health policy as a resident through the Resident Assembly Health Policy Committee.

Ms. Monroe: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Dr. Calcei: I am the oldest of four boys in a sports and science family from northeast Ohio. My parents are both public school teachers and fostered our interest in science, our love for sports, and our dedication for caring for others, which, for me, turned into a passion for orthopaedic surgery sports medicine. I attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where I majored in biology and was a captain on the baseball team. I then came to New York City for medical school at NYU School of Medicine and married my amazing wife, Shanna. I am currently in my 4th year of residency at Hospital for Special Surgery and I am applying for a fellowship in sports medicine.