Advocating for the Specialty: 14th Annual AAOMS Day on the Hill
The 14th annual AAOMS Day on the Hill took place Tuesday, April 1 and Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. Over 120 OMSs and guests representing 32 states supported the event. Nearly 30 attendees were either first-time participants or had not been to the event in at least five years.
First-time attendee Daniel G. Fields, DDS, shared his experience, “Day on the Hill was one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done to establish myself with elected officials. The preparatory sessions were very useful, I was able to meet a number of colleagues from across the country, and the legislators were quite receptive. I definitely plan to return next year.”
Tuesday Tips and Training and Kick-Off Dinner
Events began with a Tuesday afternoon Tips and Training Session that included a mock congressional meeting, conducted by Dr. Charles Crago, chair of the AAOMS Committee on Governmental Affairs, and AAOMS staff, to illustrate protocol for conducting a proper congressional visit and give tips on what to expect during such a visit. Following the mock meeting presentation, AAOMS’s Washington lobbyist, Chris Rorick of Bryan Cave, LLP led an in-depth discussion on AAOMS’s priority legislative issues.
Highly regarded political analyst Charlie Cook was keynote speaker at Tuesday evening’s dinner program. During his remarks, Mr. Cook discussed his take on the current state of politics in Washington, and his outlook for the 2014 congressional and 2016 presidential elections while also providing a comedic take on electoral/political history.
The Day on the Hill
A Wednesday morning breakfast session was held prior to the congressional visits. US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN), member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, were guest speakers.
Senator Murphy remarked on his longstanding relationship with the specialty and support of craniofacial coverage issues dating back to his service in the Connecticut General Assembly. He also addressed glitches associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Acknowledging that the law and its implementation are clearly not perfect, he stressed that only with continued support from outside groups could the implementation run as smoothly as possible. He urged patience, pointing out that we have to stay the course for the ACA to succeed and it is, after all, the law of the land.
Congresswoman Black, a former nurse, spoke in-depth about federal efforts to streamline the healthcare delivery system and to encourage provider use of electronic health records, as well as the implications of repealing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and reforming the way Medicare reimburses providers. Regarding federal efforts to devise a system that rewards the provision of “quality care,” she asked, “How do you define quality? Medicine isn’t one size fits all.” An opponent of the ACA, if the law cannot be repealed, Rep. Black supports “opening insurance plan availability across state lines, encouraging greater use of health savings accounts (HSAs), enacting tort reform and letting states control access to affordable healthcare coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”
After the morning program, AAOMS members headed to Capitol Hill for scheduled visits with roughly 160 members of Congress and/or congressional staffers during which they sought to better inform legislators on the scope and practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery; to cultivate relationships with congressional key contacts; and to advocate for the co-sponsorship/support of AAOMS’s 2014 legislative priorities - antitrust reform (HR 911), the repeal of the excise tax on medical devices (HR 523, S 232), and student loan repayment reform (HR 1716). From these meetings, AAOMS’s governmental affairs staff and Washington DC lobbyists will utilize the valuable relationships built and feedback provided by participants when looking to advance AAOMS’s issues.
While on Capitol Hill, AAOMS leaders took the opportunity to present the AAOMS 2014 Legislator of the Year Award to congressman and physician Michael Burgess (R-TX). Over the years, Congressman Burgess has supported many initiatives important to AAOMS, including liability and antitrust reform, repeal of the caps on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), the tax on medical devices, and the creation of the Medical Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as provided for under the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Burgess expressed his appreciation for his award, which acknowledges a legislator who supports the specialty and acts as a leader in Congress on healthcare issues, and vowed to continue to fight for doctors in both the public and private sectors who care for America’s patients.
Extending the Message’s Reach
AAOMS also sought to involve OMSs who were unable to join their colleagues at Day on the Hill in the advocacy efforts. In the days leading up to the meeting, AAOMS sent out a grassroots campaign alert urging members to contact their constituent members of Congress to ask them to support AAOMS’s Day on the Hill priority legislative issues. This culminated in roughly 600 messages being sent to Congress from across the country.
Photos from the 14th Annual Day on the Hill
Click on the image to view the slideshow