Spring 2013

 
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66th Annual Mtg

VOS 66th Annual Meeting
May 3-5, 2013
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
WashinGton, DC




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National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference May 1-4, 2013
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Orthopaedic Surgeons on Capital Hill
National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC)
Washington, DC • April 25-27, 2012

By Anjan Kaushik, MD (PGY-4 Orthopaedic Resident, University of Virginia)
     Ilvy Friebe, MD (PGY-5 Orthopaedic Resident, Medical College of Virginia)

It was a slow but enjoyable week to be in Washington, DC for the orthopaedic health policy conference.  Amidst a lame duck session, we attended the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC) as resident representatives for the Virginia Orthopaedic Society.  Leaders in the orthopaedic community from across the country convened to discuss the current state of affairs as well as the future of healthcare and how these changes will affect orthopaedists nationwide, and we had the marvelous opportunity to be a part of this. The NOLC, a centerpiece for orthopaedic advocacy created by the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), allows our subspecialty community to express its agenda of health policy issues to the political leaders of our country.

We were offered a unique window into the proceedings of Congress when we were directly invited into the U.S. Capitol Building to speak with Representative Robert Hurt from the fifth district of Virginia. After we were thoroughly searched and patted down, and our bags meticulously inspected, we had a few moments to admire the grandeur of the Capitol’s ornamental stone columns and majestic portraits of prominent politicians in American history. We then had the opportunity to present our most important issues to the congressman. This highlight of the conference put into perspective the importance of advocacy for the future of orthopaedic surgery.

The conference began on Wednesday afternoon with a general session, where the panelists introduced the major issues pertaining to orthopaedic surgeons today.  They emphasized patient access to quality musculoskeletal care by encouraging the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This agenda had been carried over from the previous year. The speakers also focused on antitrust reform that would allow doctors to work together in order to pursue fair reimbursement rates against potentially monopolistic health insurance plans. The H.R. 1409 bill for the “Quality Health Care Coalition Act” would promote such contractual negotiations between physicians. Other important topics included emphasizing musculoskeletal research, medical liability reform, and Medicare payment. The details of these issues can be further examined on the AAOS Government Relations site at www.aaos.org/dc.

Thursday started with a light rain shower, but this did not in any way deter us from our lobbying visit to Capitol Hill. The AAOS had developed a board game, “A Nation in Motion.” This game was designed to raise awareness about the roles of orthopaedic surgeons in society and to help the public understand the value of orthopaedic care. The game was meant to serve as a useful ice-breaker in our conversations with the congressmen. Unfortunately, the logistics of bringing the games into our first stop, the Cannon Building, proved to be tricky. It felt like an airport, placing all our belongings onto the conveyer belt for X-ray inspection. Of course, all plastic wrappers from the games had to be removed. Once inside, we were told that no boxes could be brought into the building. What to do next with dozens of board game boxes? Leave them outside? We were then told leaving boxes outside the building would activate a bomb threat, and this was most definitely not on our agenda for the day. Well, we hopped in a cab, took them back to the AAOS office, and passed a second security screening with blazing success. Interestingly, security guards at the Russell building were more lenient and allowed games, even with wrappers, no questions asked. It seems the airport and Capitol Hill security have more similarities than one would think.

During our lobbying visit, we had the fortune of meeting directly with Rep. Scott Rigell in his office and with Rep. Robert Hurt within the Capitol building after he was finished with a vote in the main assembly. We also met with a staff member in the office of Senator Jim Webb, as well as office staff of a few other Virginia politicians. Despite the fact that the Congress was in a lame-duck session, the meetings with the senators and representatives were quite encouraging, and we felt that we were able to inform them appropriately about the various AAOS policy issues.

We thank the VOS and AAOS for the opportunity to attend this conference and to participate in open discussions with congressmen about the policy issues that will be important to orthopaedic surgeons in the future.