April 27, 2020
Although there is no certainty, it appears that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind us. The national conversation is now focusing on a return to “normalcy.” High-functioning organizations have the ability to actively manage crisis situations, while looking towards the future. This is why AAOS was able to develop and implement a COVID-19 action plan, while simultaneously continuing to execute on our Strategic Plan, including leveraging changes in policy that will affect our post-COVID world. For example, we are engaged in helping you understand how to incorporate telehealth in your practice, while actively advocating for the permanent relaxation of telehealth regulations. We are also working with policymakers so that physician-owned hospitals can continue to treat Medicare patients.
Late last week, the President signed into law a $484 billion spending package—popularly known as CARES 2.0—to continue to address economic and logistical challenges related to COVID-19 (see AAOS summary). The legislation grants an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $50 billion for loan guarantees through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. It also adds an additional $75 billion to reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to COVID-19. This funding is in addition to the $100 billion earmarked in the CARES Act. This is a staggering amount of money but, frankly, it is worthless to our members unless they understand how to apply for and access the funds, which is why we have put together detailed instructions in our COVID-19 Member Resource Center.
Additionally, AAOS continues to advocate for financial relief, including loan forgiveness for practices that show significant financial hardship, especially those in rural areas, and for BPCI-Advanced and CJR participants. We are also seeking additional liability protections for physicians during the pandemic.
On an unrelated matter, even under these circumstances, there are certain governance functions that we must address. Some of you may be aware of the proposed AAOS bylaws amendments 1 and 2 that members will be voting on shortly. The purpose of the proposed changes is to streamline our bylaws and allow us to nimbly evolve our organization to face the challenges of a rapidly evolving healthcare ecosystem. That is why I along with our Board of Directors, Board of Councilors and Board of Specialty Societies strongly support them. We urge you to approve and support them as well.
Apart from why we are amending our bylaws, there has been some concern and anxiety expressed about the timing of putting these amendments to a member vote during this COVID-19 episode. These are the facts: At the 2019 Fall Meeting, the Board of Councilors debated these amendments and voted 74-2 to approve. The Board of Specialty Societies, at the same meeting, voted 37-0 to approve. At its December 2019 meeting, the Board of Directors voted 16-0 to approve.
Once we began this process in 2019 the bylaws require the membership to follow it through and vote on the proposed bylaws amendments within sixty days of the Annual Meeting Business Meetings. Delaying or stopping the bylaws amendment process is not an option under our bylaws. Neither I, as President, nor the Board can unilaterally prevent the proposed bylaws amendments from going forward for a vote.
Last week, our First Vice President, Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS shared his perspective about the bylaws change on a recent webinar. Listen and review additional details at aaos.org/bylaws.
We are surgeons. We think independently but we make our own decisions based on facts. Your vote is importand and counts as much as mine or anybody else's. In the end, no matter what the outcome, I will continue to work with all parties to move our beloved organization forward and live into our Core Values - Leading to Serve, Shaping our Future and Excellence Together.
Stay safe and healthy,
Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS