June 2004 AAOS Report

Medical liability, Medicare reimbursement focus of 2004 NOLC

The 2004 National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC), April 28-May 1, attracted nearly 200 orthopaedic surgeons from around the country. The conference gave attendees an opportunity to visit their U.S. representatives and senators to discuss the medical liability crisis and the Medicare physician payment formula. The participants visited more than 200 congressional offices, requesting lawmakers to contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, and request administrative changes in the Medicare physician fee schedule formula. The orthopaedists also asked the government officials to sign the Doctors for Medical Liability Reform (DMLR) pledge to support federal liability reform legislation. Several returned the DMLR pledge during the visits. Many congressional leaders said they support comprehensive medical liability reform that includes a cap on noneconomic damages. Senators supporting medical liability reform expressed frustration that legislation had been blocked in the Senate.

Democrats opposed to the caps say the reform bills in the Senate have not passed through traditional committee channels. Insurance reform is needed, they say, not caps on noneconomic damages. They maintain a $250,000 cap is arbitrary and will have no effect on physicians’ premiums. Both parties agree that administrative and legislative action is needed to fix the Medicare physician fee schedule formula.

Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), a dentist, introduced speaker Tom Price, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and Republican House candidate from Georgia. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), an obstetrician/gynecologist, told participants how to get involved in political leadership positions. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) participated in a panel discussion of specialty hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was a guest speaker at a “Legacy of Heroes” reception min the Senate Russell Building where the traveling exhibit that recognizes the courageous and meaningful contributions of orthopaedic surgeons during World War II was on display.

If you want to join the growing medical liability campaign, please make your personal or corporate check payable to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons and send it to AAOS, 6300 N. River Road, Rosemont, Ill. 60018, Attn: Medical Liability. Credit card contributions are also welcome.

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