June 2002 Bulletin

Orthopaedists visit Capitol Hill during NOLC

AAOS President Vernon T. Tolo, MD (left), met with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in his Capitol Hill office during the AAOS National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in Apri.

More than 250 orthopaedists and their spouses visited Capitol Hill during this year’s National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC) in Washington, D.C, April 24-27. Participants included the Board of Councilors, the Council of Musculoskeletal Specialty Societies, the executive committee and regional representatives of the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons; delegations from several state orthopaedic societies; the Governmental Affairs Committee of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons; and representatives of other musculoskeletal-related organizations, including the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.

The first group of orthopaedic surgeons chosen to participate in the new AAOS Leadership Fellows Program also attended the NOLC.

Hill visits

The theme of this year’s conference was "The Practice of Medicine—At What Cost?"

Once again, orthopaedic surgeons took their concerns surrounding a number of socioeconomic issues directly to legislators in a daylong series of visits to Capitol Hill.

Lawrence R. Housman, MD, (left) and Richard L. Collins, MD, (right) spoke with Rep. John Shadegg (R-AR) after his NOLC presentation on Medicare payments.

During their Hill meetings, NOLC participants focused on several pressing issues that are currently impacting orthopaedic practice:

They also delivered several messages to members of Congress including requests to:

Leadership development

In addition to making the Hill visits, NOLC participants spent a half-day in a leadership development program, which has become a hallmark of the NOLC over the past few years. This year’s program focused on mentoring.

Another half-day session was spent in a highly interactive and in-depth panel discussion on several key issues, including diversity in the orthopaedic workplace, reduced funding for academic medical centers as outlined in President Bush’s recent 2003 budget proposal, and the Medicare Joint Replacement Demonstration project.

Press Conference

Dozens of orthopaedic surgeons who attended the NOLC packed a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, April 25, to support of the introduction of H.R. 4600, "The Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care Act (HEALTH) of 2002."

John Kelly, IV, MD, (at podium) about attendees of a jammed press conference introducing the new HEALTH Act about the impact of increased professional medical liability insurance rates in his community.

The HEALTH Act seeks to reform the medical liability system and was introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators, including Representatives James Greenwood (R-Pa.), Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), John Murtha (D-Pa.), Charles Stenholm (D-Texas), Collin Peterson (D- Minn.), James Moran (D-Va.) and Ken Lucas (D-Ky.).

H.R. 4600 is closely modeled after the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act and includes a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages but exempts states with laws that allow higher caps.

During the press conference, John Kelly IV, MD, associate professor and vice chairman of the department of orthopaedic surgery at Temple University in Philadelphia, provided personal testimony of his experiences with increased professional liability insurance rates and how patient access to specialty care is being compromised.

To learn about more NOLC legislative issues, or to view the latest AAOS testimony or position statements, visit the health policy section of the AAOS Web site.

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