We have all enjoyed a year of adjustment and adaptation unlike any in recent memory. Although the AAOS 2021 Annual Meeting has been moved from spring to late summer, Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, that certainly does not mean AAOS members will be inactive until we arrive at the San Diego Convention Center. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and I am excited to start my AAOS presidency with a project that is not only near and dear to me, but also critical to shaping the future of orthopaedics.
With the support of key AAOS leaders and members, the AAOS Office of Government Relations (OGR) will host Orthopaedic Advocacy Week May 24 to 28 to amplify yearlong advocacy efforts in a new and innovative way. This event, building on the In-District Advocacy Event in August 2020, will enable us to educate members of Congress on key healthcare policy issues facing orthopaedic surgeons. Our goal is to increase our effectiveness as advocates and deliver critical messages on behalf of our patients and the national musculoskeletal community.
Although we cannot yet meet in-person with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., it is absolutely critical that we continue to engage them on relevant issues. Our mission is to champion increased access to care and, at the same time, reduce the barriers that hamper our ability to treat patient conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the opportunity to expand access to care through telemedicine, and we are considering the extension of these valuable services. We are also promoting measures to remove impediments to timely care, such as burdensome prior authorization processes, and reduce and prevent mental health issues for healthcare professionals who continue to be overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Daily events and activities
During Orthopaedic Advocacy Week, AAOS members who sign up to participate or visit the event webpage can join their colleagues in learning more about specific healthcare policy topics and conveying our stand on a variety of issues. Each day’s theme and corresponding “ask” will center on a tactic in our advocacy strategy toolbox, whether the tool employed is grassroots action, social media, regulatory rulemaking, engaging with members of Congress, or strengthening the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (OrthoPAC). Highlighted below is our daily calendar of events.
- Monday, May 24: Growing Support with Grassroots
- Tuesday, May 25: Amplify with Social Media
- Wednesday, May 26: Shaping Policy through Rulemaking
- Thursday, May 27: Virtual Capitol Hill Day with Lawmakers
- Friday, May 28: Get Invested with Orthopaedic PAC
Participants who sign up will receive daily emails throughout the event with more information on these activities and are encouraged to take advantage of each opportunity to sharpen their skills. AAOS members who are unable to join in the meetings on Thursday can still help amplify our message by engaging in the daily, virtual activities found on the event webpage or by following along on social media using #OrthoAdvocacyinAction.
Virtual Capitol Hill Day
The highlight of Orthopaedic Advocacy Week is the Virtual Capitol Hill Day with Lawmakers. Our OGR will deploy a new platform to assist interested orthopaedic surgeons in seamlessly scheduling Zoom meetings with members of Congress to make critical requests and advocate for several issues. We will focus our conversations with lawmakers on the following issues from our 2021 Unified Advocacy Agenda: reforming prior authorization and endorsing telemedicine policies that promote fair reimbursement.
Finally, we will call attention to physician mental health, specifically H.R. 1667, also known as the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. The pandemic has tested everyone, few as severely as healthcare workers. We want Congress to know that AAOS supports this bipartisan legislation, which would reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals.
To help prepare our member advocates, the OGR healthcare policy team will provide sufficient training and resources for conducting successful virtual meetings and engaging lawmakers, including background information and talking points. To learn more about these and other advocacy opportunities, visit aaos.org/orthopaedicadvocacyweek or email email@example.com.
Join our ‘movement’
If you are interested in participating in any of Orthopaedic Advocacy Week’s planned activities, please sign up today and look out for opportunities from the OGR while regularly checking the event webpage. We will add more details and information as they become available.
Lastly, do not forget that shaping healthcare policy is not a once-a-year activity. I hope the orthopaedic community will engage with members of Congress throughout the entire year. For example, the AAOS Advocacy Action Center contains prewritten letters on a number of healthcare policy issues that can easily be sent to members of Congress anytime, anywhere, and with only two clicks of a button. Our OGR team is constantly updating this tool and tailoring letters to have the greatest impact when received by policymakers.
I hope you will join us for Orthopaedic Advocacy Week as we continue to support AAOS’ mission of serving our profession to provide the highest-quality musculoskeletal care. Questions about this event or other opportunities to get involved with advocacy yearlong can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS, is president of AAOS.