Fall 2020 Issue
D. Nicole Deal, MD
As this summer comes to a close, I hope this newsletter finds you and your families healthy and happy and as fall begins, that you are finding ways to remain active and engaged despite the current social constraints. With fall sports an uncertainty, the fall season is likely to be yet another strange one, devoid of tailgates and football and many other fun fall activities. Let us all pull together to support one another in these unprecedented times which are so far from normal.
Here at the University of Virginia, fall is the time we welcome new residents and fellows and begin our journey with them. It is always so exciting to have new learners around who are full of energy, enthusiasm, and questions. We welcome all the new residents from around the Commonwealth to join all the orthopaedic surgeons in the VOS family and hope you will become involved with our society.
Since our last newsletter, the advocacy efforts of the Virginia Orthopaedic Society have been going strong. In August, several VOS members participated in a virtual AAOS National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference with congressmen, senators, and staffers. Many of our efforts the last few months have focused on COVID-19 and the Commonwealth’s response to it. VOS has participated in several task forces convened by the Governor’s office and the Department of Health. We helped advocate for a safe return to elective surgeries with the administration and were part of the discussions on how to make that possible. VOS has been at the table for discussions around personal protective equipment, workforce, safety, best practices, etc. COVID-19 will continue to have a huge influence on everything we do; including our advocacy efforts. We will make sure we are working with the Commonwealth to do everything possible to keep physicians and patients safe.
COPN reform continues to be a top priority for VOS. We made some progress last year with our proposed legislation to create an “expedited review process” and gained some new legislative supporters. We recently participated in a House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee workgroup on COPN. We educated new members on COPN and why we believe reform will lead to expanded access and lower healthcare costs for patients. VOS will continue to voice the need for reform and recruit new legislative supporters to this issue.
VOS worked with a coalition of physicians and hospitals to pass legislation in 2020 that prohibits surprise billing for patients, but ensures physicians receive fair payment for out-of-network claims. The legislation includes the following components: Pay providers a “commercially reasonable amount” that is undefined so there is no benchmark that can then impact in-network payments. For the purposes of arbitration and for determining the “best offers” for the baseball style arbitration, a data set will be created based on commercial health insurance claims (excluding Medicaid and Medicare) and will be prepared using the All Payer Claims Database, in collaboration with providers and health insurers, for use by providers, facilities, insurers, and arbitrators. The data set will include: Median in-network allowed amount, Median out-of-network allowed amount and Median billed charges. The Virginia Health Initiative has been tasked with convening a task force to develop the data set. VOS has two representatives on this task force and is working to ensure claims data related to orthopedics are accurate.
Whether through our actions or through our financial support, we have a voice in Richmond, as long as we pursue it. We will continue to have updates from Richmond throughout the year from our highly respected lobbyists, Lauren Schmitt and Cal Whitehead. This society is the voice of your practice and I invite you to contact us if there are any issues that are affecting your practice or the care of your orthopaedic patients. Of course, maintaining our ability to be there for you is dependent on maintaining a strong society with an equally strong Political Action Committee.
Please, take a moment to make sure your membership is up to date with the VOS and, if a new surgeon joins your practice or relocates from out of state, please invite them to join VOS. Also, please support our Virginia Political Action Committee (ORTHO-PAC). Links for both membership and the ORTHO-PAC are on the VOS website. Finally, please encourage all your partners and colleagues to vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Moving forward, plans are falling into place for next year’s Annual Meeting at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Please mark your calendars for the weekend of April 30-May 2, 2021 and plan to join us. Spring is a beautiful time of year at the Greenbrier and we will have a robust meeting with opportunities for learning, collegiality, and fun for the whole family. Thank you for all you do for the orthopaedic patients in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If there is anything we can do here at the Society to support you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
April 30 - May 1, 2021
Please visit our website at vos.org for updates as they become available.