Advocating for the Specialty: 12th Annual AAOMS Day on the Hill
The 12th annual AAOMS Day on the Hill took place Tuesday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. The event was supported by the largest number of attendees in AAOMS history with 138 total OMSs and guests, representing 38 states. Approximately 30 attendees were either first-time participants or had not been to the event in at least five years.
Tuesday’s program began at 4pm with an in depth discussion of our issues from AAOMS’s Washington lobbyists, Bill Applegate and Chris Rorick of Bryan Cave, LLP as well as a briefing on how to conduct congressional visits featuring special comments from Ms. Courtney Austin, legislative director for Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and daughter of AAOMS member Dr. Gordon Austin of Georgia. During this time, program attendees were provided with an example of what to expect during their congressional visits and the proper ways in which to advocate on behalf of AAOMS issues when on Capitol Hill.
Tuesday’s program continued with a 5:30pm cocktail reception and dinner co-hosted by AAOMS and OMSPAC. During dinner, participants were treated to a keynote speech by political pundit Tucker Carlson. During his remarks, Mr. Carlson highlighted the current state of the presidential elections, some notable interactions between members of Congress, and he also provided some humorous anecdotes about the overall political system. AAOMS members welcomed his political knowledge, wittiness, and intelligence.
The Wednesday portion of the event began with a morning breakfast program that included comments from Representative and dentist Paul Gosar (R-AZ), two members of Congress who serve on key health care committees – Representative Ron Kind (D-WI), a member of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), an ophthalmologist and member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Attendees also heard from Mr. R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the nation’s “drug czar.”
Congressman Gosar discussed the recent House passage of his antitrust reform bill (H.R. 1150) as an amendment to a larger medical malpractice reform bill (H.R. 5). He also took time to encourage AAOMS members to seize the opportunity to meet with their members of congress as input on many congressional issues matters this year more than ever.
Like Dr. Gosar, Congressman Kind also promoted the idea that now is a critical time for constituents and health care providers to meet with and inform their members of Congress. In discussing the impact of events like Day on the Hill, the congressman made special note of the crucial role dentistry and dental issues play in health reform and that oral care must continue to be a part of the continuum of overall national health care.
Senator Paul spent a great deal of time explaining his sentiments on the implications of the health reform law, adding a unique perspective on these issues as a small business owner, physician, and freshman in Congress. Specifically, the Senator told attendees that Congress and the Administration went overboard in trying to fix the US health care system. He believes that Congressional Republicans can achieve a “do over” to fix things properly.
Director Kerlikowske spoke at length about the current prescription drug abuse epidemic in the US and noted several ways in which health care providers, specifically dentists, and prescribers play a role and can help quell the problem. He drew special attention to the fact that this epidemic is a problem growing at an almost exponential pace, citing the statistic that more people die of prescription drug abuse than car accidents.
Once the morning program came to a close, AAOMS members headed to Capitol Hill for scheduled visits with roughly 134 congressional members and staffers. Attendees going on these visits were charged with three main goals: to better inform members of Congress on the scope and practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery; to initiate as well as reinforce relationships with congressional key contacts; and to advocate for the co-sponsorship/support of AAOMS’s 2012 legislative priorities – antitrust reform (H.R. 1150), prevention of essential drug shortages (S. 296/H.R. 2245, H.R.3839), the repeal of restrictions on Flexible Spending Accounts (H.R. 605/S. 312, H.R. 1004/S. 1404), and the repeal of the excise tax on medical devices (H.R. 436/S. 17). Attendees also had the option to discuss other issues of interest, such as the CARES Act, long-term Medicare physician reimbursement (SGR) reform, taxation of medical devices, and AAOMS’s physical therapy referral bill, the Medicare Oral Health Rehabilitative Enhancement Act.
The 2012 Day on the Hill was incredibly successful. Not only did the event allow AAOMS to motivate the largest number of new members to attend and participate in the event, but it also led to the development of many vital connections between AAOMS members, staff, and federal legislators. The advancements made by this year’s Day on the Hill attendees were quite apparent after review of attendees’ program evaluations and congressional visit feedback forms. AAOMS governmental affairs staff and Washington DC lobbyists now have a multitude of legislators with whom to collaborate on AAOMS-supported issues and have a much clearer grasp on which legislators to target when seeking support for particular issues.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2013 Day on the Hill event, scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
Photos from the 12th Annual Day on the Hill
Click on the image to view the slideshow