In the News
Budget reconciliation bill affects orthopaedics
The House-Senate Conference Budget Reconciliation Bill contains several provisions of interest to orthpaedists. It halted the 4.4 percent Medicare payment cut, and froze the Medicare conversion factor at the 2005 level. However, regulatory changes in other parts of the payment formula may result in different payment levels than 2005 for some orthopaedic procedures. There were no pay-for-performance mandates for physicians. CMS is expected to implement value-based purchasing structures through nationwide demonstration projects. Gainsharing demonstration projects can now be developed. Applications for demonstration projects will be solicited later this year. Payment cuts for imaging services and treatment in ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) will be implemented in 2007. Issuance of Medicare provider numbers for new Single Specialty Hospitals was temporarily suspended. The 75-percent rule for inpatient rehabilitation facilities now has an extended transition period. For more information, see the AAOS Washington Office Legislative Round-up (password protected).
AAOS offers assistance to hurricane survivors
Recognizing that a number of AAOS members affected by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita are still struggling to rebuild their practices and their communities, the AAOS Board of Directors voted to waive 2006 membership dues for fellows and candidate members who request such assistance. In addition, the Academy will provide these members with $500 to help offset the costs of traveling to the Annual Meeting in Chicago and provide discounts toward the future purchases of educational products.
Members who were affected by the hurricanes and would like to take advantage of these benefits should notify the Academy at www.aaos.org/relief Members who have relocated are urged to update their contact information at online. In addition, members who have contact information for AAOS fellows who have relocated and who might not have yet updated their Academy records are urged to help by passing on the new contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
In related news, the AAOS contributed $50,000 in the name of the members and staff of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to the American Red Cross for use in its response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Katrina symposium examines practice preservation, leadership
During the 2006 Annual Meeting in Chicago, Barry Riemer, MD—chair, orthopaedic residency program, Louisiana State University School of Medicine at New Orleans—will moderate a symposium, “Lessons of Katrina: Personal, Professional and Ethical,” on Thursday, March 23, 2006, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Room Lakeside E353 at McCormick Place.
Three survivors of Hurricane Katrina and an expert in business/insurance issues will discuss the impact of a natural disaster on an orthopaedic practice, orthopaedic surgeons and their patients. Underlying the discussions will be the theme of the physician as leader—providing direction to colleagues, hospital/practice staff members and families in the most extreme circumstances. Practical advice will be given on how to preserve practice and patient records, as well as on insurance issues that can devastate a practice in the aftermath of any natural disaster.
DMLR creates new video; reveals state-by-state reform efforts
Doctors for Medical Liability Reform (DMLR), of which the AAOS is a founding member, has produced a new video minidocumentary on the problems patients face accessing proper health care when their physicians are forced to move their practices or quit medicine because of high medical liability insurance costs. A copy of the video was sent to physicians, the media and concerned citizens to help spread the word about DMLR’s “Protect Patients Now” campaign. It can be viewed online.
In addition, the site features a new interactive map that shows how the medical liability crisis is affecting patients and doctors in each state. The map also indicates where each elected representative in Washington stands on this important issue and whether he or she supports adequate reforms.
Nominations for MORE Awards due March 10
The AAOS Public Education and Media Relations Department (PEMR) is seeking nominations for the new Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence (MORE) Awards. This program recognizes excellence in media coverage that furthers public understanding of musculoskeletal health and issues, and encourages healthy behavior in caring for bones, joints, muscles and tendons. If you’ve seen or heard a print, Internet or broadcast media story that you’d like to nominate, submit the reporter’s name and/or the story to Carlye Fallon at email@example.com or call her at (847) 384-4035. The entry deadline is March 10, so please allow enough time for the PEMR staff to contact the reporter and complete the entry submission process. Additional information on the MORE Awards is on the online entry form.