Advocating for the Specialty: 10th Annual AAOMS Day on the Hill
The 10th annual AAOMS Day on the Hill took place Tuesday, April 20 and Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at Washington, DC's Madison Hotel. The program hosted a strong showing of 125 total advocates and guests, including 94 OMSs representing 34 states. Several attendees were first-time participants.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of our Day on the Hill meetings, this year a new program was offered on Tuesday afternoon geared toward newcomers but open to all, that focused on what to expect when walking into a legislator's office. The program included a mock congressional meeting, which highlighted common mistakes and emphasized ways to ensure a successful appointment. Many first-time attendees and returning advocates attended this training session, which received great reviews and will most likely be continued at future Day on the Hill events.
The Tuesday evening program began with a reception and dinner co-hosted by AAOMS and OMSPAC in which participants were treated to remarks from Chris Rorick, of Bryan Cave Strategies, which represents AAOMS in Washington, DC. Mr. Rorick gave a presentation on the recently enacted health reform law and discussed what to expect moving forward with the implementation process.
To conclude the evening program, keynote speaker and pollster Charlie Cook entertained participants again this year, highlighting what the changes in the current political landscape mean for the future of both political parties, especially in light of the health care overhaul. Mr. Cook is always well-received by our members for his engaging and insightful political commentary.
Participants gathered early Wednesday morning for a brief program that included remarks by two members of Congress - Representative Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Tex) and Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb), and a review of the Day on the Hill goals and legislative issues by Bill Applegate, of Bryan Cave Strategies.
Representative Burgess spent nearly three decades practicing medicine as an obstetrician/gynecologist in North Texas, before being elected to Congress in 2002. His experience as a physician gives him a unique perspective on the new health reform law, and he shared his insight on how it will affect providers and patients.
Senator Nelson focused his presentation on the political environment on Capitol Hill during the health reform debate, and how the focus of Congress now must work in a bipartisan manner to improve the new law - making special mention of tort reform.
Following the morning program, AAOMS members headed to Capitol Hill for scheduled meetings with roughly 110 members of Congress and their staff. The purpose of these visits was three-fold: to educate Congress about oral and maxillofacial surgery; initiate and strengthen relationships with congressional key contacts; and to advocate for the passage of the association's 2010 legislative priorities - the CARES Act (H.R. 1339/S. 1235), the Medicare Oral Health Rehabilitative Enhancement Act (H.R. 1430), antitrust reform legislation, long-term Medicare physician reimbursement (SGR) reform and the Dental Coverage Value and Transparency Act (H.R. 5000). AAOMS members were also given the opportunity to discuss other issues of interest, such as meth mouth, balance billing, uncompensated care and funding for the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).
Additionally, on Wednesday, AAOMS Officers along with OMSs from Virginia presented the 2010 AAOMS Legislator of the Year Award to House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va). Representative Cantor has been a great legislative champion for the specialty, most notably, by serving as the lead Republican sponsor of the Medicare Oral Health Rehabilitative Enhancement Act.
This year's event succeeded in including new AAOMS members and in reaching out to federal legislators who had not met with OMSs before. The benefits of Day on the Hill were evident almost immediately, with a clear jump in support for all AAOMS legislative priorities, and positive feedback from congressional offices that continues to come in. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2011 Day on the Hill program, scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.