Winter 2018 Issue
By Jeff Schulman, MD
President, Virginia Orthopaedic Society
As the leaves begin to fall and the winds turn colder, a warm greeting to all of our Virginia Orthopaedic Society members. I wanted to reflect on where we are as a society and provide an update on the progress we’ve made on a few fronts. As time goes on and I progress in my career, it becomes more and more obvious that physicians are truly united across all of medicine for the common good of our patients. There are many challenges and many challengers looking to affect the way in which we are able to provide care for our patients. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which these interests will go to paint our profession as the bad guy. Fortunately, I have found the camaraderie that binds our fraternity within orthopaedics to be one of the most solid within all of medicine, which puts us in an excellent position as we stand our ground against these interests (but of course I may be somewhat biased).
When I last wrote, we were coming off of the NOLC on Capitol Hill with national issues on our minds, such as opioid legislation and the Good Samaritan Law. As we head into winter, we look to the State Legislature session; things are beginning to heat up in Richmond. There are issues that are likely to affect all of our practices most directly. Certificate of Public Need reform (COPN) is still at the forefront of our agenda and there are a few different angles that may get this issue pushed forward. One of the key stumbling blocks up until this point, was the fact that some legislators said COPN reform could never move forward until Medicaid expansion occurred. With that out of the way, our hope is that there is a pathway forward. One other big issue that has risen to the forefront recently, is being labeled within the political spectrum as “Surprise Balance Billing,” in the setting of out-of-network medical care. As the healthcare community moves along the negotiations, a critical early step may be to educate legislators and other stakeholders regarding the implications of some of the potential solutions being suggested. Even for those of us whose practices are primarily within insurance networks, the legislative solutions proposed have the potential to have significant downstream implications with regards to future insurance contract negotiations.
Beyond these legislative issues, let us not forget the never ending array of regulatory hoops to jump through, and ongoing administrative headaches thrown our way from insurers, hospital administrators and various other regulatory bodies. Despite this, it comforts me to know that I am not in this alone and whenever I speak with any of you, my colleagues spanning the Commonwealth, we are all facing the same challenges. Across Virginia, we have the privilege of providing Orthopaedic care for patients of all ages within every practice setting. We provide care to our military, within our academic institutions, private practices and various hybrid models. The challenges are not unique from one corner of the Commonwealth to the other and, on more than one occasion, I have seen the resources of our society come together to overcome them. I’ve called on old friends from my training who settled in Virginia, as well as people I met at the VOS President’s OrthoPAC wine reception (if you haven’t been to one of those, I would highly recommend it this coming May) to solve dilemmas and my VOS connections have helped us overcome problems by working stronger together. The challenges to our businesses seem to be mounting more and more over the years. These Orthopaedic bonds and friendships will hopefully continue to improve our practices and create more meaningful experiences in the years to come.
On an academic note, our Annual Meeting is really starting to take shape. I will leave it to our Program Chairs, Ryan Miyamoto, MD and Seth Yarboro, MD, to elaborate. They are really lining up an interesting slate that will be a worthwhile experience for all who will join us for the weekend in Washington, DC on May 3-5, 2019. We look forward to seeing you in the not too distant future.
In closing, as always I wish to thank you for your ongoing society membership. Please encourage all your partners and colleagues to join. If you never engaged in the society in person, I promise you would easily get more than your money’s worth from the work that our advocacy team does in Richmond on your behalf. But, as I noted above, the more you engage with our society, the more you realize that our orthopaedic community around Virginia is a group of like minded colleagues who can be there for you when needed. Wishing you all the best.