AAOS Bulletin - April, 2005

Rep. Price advises Orthopaedic PAC to look to future

It’s not too early to think about 2006 elections

By Kathleen Misovic

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga.) called on members of the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) to help solve the problems of rising medical liability insurance rates and unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid systems when he addressed the group during the 2005 AAOS Annual Meeting.

Addressing attendees at the Orthopaedic PAC Luncheon, Tom Price, MD, the first orthopaedic surgeon elected to Congress, looked back at his campaign and forward to the likelihood of passing medical liability reform.

“Your political involvement is imperative to solve these problems,” said Rep. Price, who was the featured speaker at the Orthopaedic PAC luncheon.

PAC committee members welcomed the first orthopaedic surgeon elected to Congress with a standing ovation. “I could not have won this race without your help,” Rep. Price told the crowd.

Rep. Price was elected in 2004 after serving as a Georgia state senator since 1996. He credited the Orthopaedic PAC with raising his visibility and credibility within the state of Georgia and helping him get elected at the federal level.

“The Orthopaedic PAC was one of the most instrumental PACs,” he said. “It gave early money to support my cause.”

Despite recent successes, now is not the time for the PAC to take a break from supporting its members’ interests, such as federal tort reform and Medicare reform, said Rep. Price.

“With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, it’s now time to put up or shut up regarding health care,” he said. He suggested that PAC members contact their state senators and representatives regarding medical liability reform, Medicare reimbursement and other important issues. “And, yes, reach into your back pocket again,” he said. “The process is never done.”

To a question about the status of federal tort reform, Rep. Price noted that the U.S. House has passed a bill on federal tort reform in the past, and will probably do so again before the summer break, but the measure always dies an untimely death in the Senate.

Strategist shares tips

A second speaker was political strategist Dick Wadhams, who was instrumental in the 2004 win by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) over then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Wadhams is now chief of staff for Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)

“I can’t tell you how important it is for you to keep doing what you’re doing,” Wadhams told the crowd. “Congratulate yourselves on being involved with unseating a Senate Minority Leader for the first time in 52 years.”

He said the Orthopaedic PAC needs to look ahead to the 2006 Senate elections. “There is another round of competitive races you need to get involved in,” he said.

Wadhams spoke heavily in favor of PACs, which he said have been demonized by some people pushing for campaign finance reform. “With PACs, you know exactly what their agenda is and exactly where their contributions are coming from,” Wadhams said.

During the question-and-answer session, Wadhams spoke in favor of a federal response to medical liability reform.

“It’s become a national issue with the horror stories of physicians pulling out of markets and large populations of people becoming underserved,” Wadhams said. “These issues override states’ rights.”

In response to a question about limited PAC funds, Wadhams recommended providing money to local governments before the federal government. “I’d recommend that PAC members give their money to their states if they have any hot elections coming up,” he said. “Whatever group will promote the agenda of your colleagues is money well-spent.”

To stay abreast of events on the federal level that affect orthopaedic surgeons, AAOS members can subscribe to the free Legislative Update, a biweekly electronic newsletter produced by the Washington, D.C., office. For more information, visit http://www.aaos.org/dc

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