October 2000 Bulletin

GOP, Dems hear PAC message

Meet with legislators, policy makers on health care issues

Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) who lost both legs and part of an arm while serving in Vietnam, meets with Paul Collins, MD, Orthopaedic PAC chairman, at the Democrtatic National Convention.

By Jennifer Kunde

For the first time ever, members of the Orthopaedic PAC attended both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, delivering an important healthcare message to legislative attendees. While this year’s conventions may have lacked the drama of years past, each did offer an opportunity to speak and interact with legislators, policy makers and their staffs. Most importantly, the PAC co-hosted healthcare events at each convention that focused attention on specialty care.

William W. Tipton Jr., MD, represented the PAC at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, Pa., where he spent his days conferring with elected officials and promoting healthcare issues and then, at night, went to the First Union Center to observe convention proceedings. "Healthcare is such an important issue in this election," said Dr. Tipton, "and it is critical that the medical community be present and have their voices heard."

Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, left, Kathryn Pontzer, deputy director of AAOS Washington Office, and William W. Tipton, Jr, MD, meet at Republican National Convention.

In addition to Dr. Tipton, two orthopaedic surgeons served as delegates: John Barrasso, MD, delegate from Wyoming, and Ben Clayburgh, MD, alternate delegate from North Dakota.

During the second night of the Republican convention, the Orthopaedic PAC, along with several medical specialty groups, hosted House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s hospitality suite, where members of Congress and their staffs relaxed. Several physicians representing medical specialty groups were able to interact and discuss issues with legislators on an informal basis.

The PAC next headed west to participate in the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Calif., with Paul C. Collins, MD, Orthopaedic PAC chairman, joining Dr. Tipton as representatives of the orthopaedic community

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), member of House Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Environment, center, discussed health issues with Paul Collins, MD, orthopaedic PAC chairman, left, and William W. Tipton, Jr. MD, at the National Democratic Convention

During the day, Dr. Tipton and Dr. Collins spoke with Democratic members of the Senate and House, making key contacts along the way. "It’s important for us to continue to reach out to members of Congress and identify areas of commonality," said Dr. Tipton. "For instance, during a conversation with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), I learned that his daughter is interested in studying to become an orthopaedic surgeon." Dr. Collins concurred, noting that throughout the convention "we were able to speak candidly and openly with legislators on issues of importance to the healthcare community."

Following the first night of the Democratic convention, the Orthopaedic PAC co-hosted (along with several medical specialty groups) an after-hours event at Paramount Studios. Members of Congress, the Cabinet and other dignitaries, along with several Democratic staff persons attended the "Salute to Democratic Healthcare Heroes." Los Angeles physicians Vernon T. Tolo, MD, AAOS second vice president, and Blair C. Filler, MD, member of the AAOS Committee on Health Care Financing, attended the healthcare event on behalf of the Orthopaedic PAC, as well.

Overall, the convention experience was positive for the physicians attending. "It was an opportunity to take our message directly to the decision-makers," said Dr. Collins. "We worked closely as a physician community and presented a unified image."

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