Ryan N. Harris, DO
In a typical year, there will be a day in Spring when White Coats filter through the halls of Congress to meet with lawmakers and staffers about important orthopaedic issues. Since this was not a typical year, those meetings were virtual as part of AAOS Orthopaedic Advocacy Week from May 24-28.
This was a very well-designed week by the Academy to bring attention to three key issues important to patients and surgeons.
The culminating event was on Thursday, with the Fly-In, organized by the AAOS in conjunction with the Virginia Orthopaedic Society. These were well organized virtual meetings with lawmakers and staff from former Vice-Presidential Candidate, Senator Tim Kaine, to Senator Mark Warner, to even having some time with Representative Ben Cline himself. There were meetings scheduled through the day with eight different Virginia lawmakers, where we had the ability to discuss how important the issues above were to our patients and fellow providers and to ask (because there is always an ‘ask’) for support for the three specific bills that support those initiatives.
In the end, 249 surgeons registered for the event officially, with likely many more participating in other ways. This helped to generate 582 letters to policymakers in their districts nationwide. There were 202 meetings like the ones described above with legislators and staff-members. Of those, there were 81 “Sign-Ons” for support for the issues or bills we discussed. Additionally, almost 1,000 contributors donated to the Orthopaedic PAC and raised $269,111.
I would like to thank everyone that participated and helped organize behind the scenes from VOS and AAOS, and am looking forward to these meetings returning in a more personal setting.