Advocating for the Specialty: 9th Annual AAOMS Day on the Hill
The 9th annual AAOMS Day on the Hill took place Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at Washington, DC's Madison Hotel. It was AAOMS's highest-attended grassroots lobbying event, with over 100 OMSs representing 37 states. A large number of participants were first time attendees, motivated to attend by the increased national dialogue about health care. Dr. Daniel Quon of Jackson, Mississippi, a first time participant, commented that "AAOMS Day on Capitol Hill was a very rewarding and meaningful experience that everyone in our specialty should experience. It really provided interesting insight into how the wheels turn in Washington, and how time constrained our elected officials really are. The trip also provided an opportunity to meet and initiate relationships with some important staff members in each of the offices I visited."
The program began with a Tuesday evening reception and dinner co-hosted by AAOMS and OMSPAC in which participants were treated to remarks from Representative Eric Cantor (R-Va), who serves as House Minority Whip and, as such, is the second highest ranking House Republican. Michael Menis, DDS, immediate past OMSPAC chair and a close friend, introduced Representative Cantor, noting his continued leadership on behalf of the association by serving as the lead Republican sponsor of the Medicare Oral Health Rehabilitative Enhancement Act (H.R. 1430), which would make a technical fix to current Medicare statute to allow OMSs to directly refer for physical therapy.
The dinner program continued with the presentation of the 2009 AAOMS Legislator of the Year Award. Kathy Banks, DMD, president of the New Jersey Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, introduced this year's recipient, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), who was recognized for his support of the specialty, in particular his sponsorship of H.R. 1430.
To conclude the evening program, keynote speaker and political pundit Charlie Cook entertained participants again this year with his presentation highlighting what the changes in the current political landscape mean for the future of both political parties and for public policy goals, including health care reform. 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 - Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-Calif) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), and a review of the Day on the Hill goals and legislative issues by AAOMS's Washington lobbyist, William Applegate.
Representative Bilbray shared insight gleaned from his long career in public service on how to address health care reform. This was his first time speaking to Day on the Hill participants and his comments provided an interesting new perspective.
Representative McCarthy, the AAOMS 2008 Legislator of the Year, focused on the importance of advocacy and her hopes for successful passage of the AAOMS legislative priorities, two of which she has sponsored. She pledged to do her part in pushing for the passage of these measures and thanked AAOMS members for coming to the Hill to help in the effort.
Following the morning program, AAOMS members headed to Capitol Hill for scheduled meetings with nearly 140 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 2009 legislative priorities — the CARES Act (H.R. 1339), the Medicare Oral Health Rehabilitative Enhancement Act (H.R. 1430) and the National Facial Protection Month resolution (H. Res. 193). AAOMS members were also given the opportunity to discuss the ongoing health care reform debate and how it would affect the specialty and patient care.
This year's event succeeded in including new AAOMS members and in reaching out to federal legislators who had not met with association members before. The benefits of Day on the Hill were evident almost immediately, with a clear jump in support for all three AAOMS legislative priorities, and positive feedback continues to come in. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2010 Day on the Hill program, scheduled for Wednesday, April 21 at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va) gives remarks at the Day on the Hill Reception
AAOMS 2009 Legislator of the Year, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., (D-NJ) with New Jersey OMSs Gerard Begley, DMD, Kathy Banks, DMD, and Dr. Bruce Huberman, DMD
AAOMS California Delegation at the Day on the Hill reception. Pictured left to right: ROAAOMS Executive Committee Representative Zachary Peacock, DMD, MD, AAOMS Vice President Larry Moore, DDS, MS, Committee on Governmental Affairs Chair Gerald Gelfand, DMD, Alan Kaye, DDS, and Ned Nix, DDS.
AAOMS Florida Delegation at the Day on the Hill reception. Pictured left to right: Nathan Eberle, DDS, James Davis, Jr., DDS, Don Tillery, Jr., DMD, Mark Tucker, DDS, ROAAOMS Executive Committee Vice Chair Todd Reuter, DMD, MD, and Howard Fisher, DDS
AAOMS 2008 Legislator of the Year, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)and members of the New York Delegation, Victor Nannini, DDS, and Immediate Past President Lee Pollan, DMD, MS
Group shot of AAOMS members at the morning program prior to heading to Capitol Hill to meet with federal legislators
AAOMS Officers and OMSs from Illinois meet with Representative John Shimkus (R-Ill), who sits on the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Pictured left to right: Anthony Spina, DDS, MD, Immediate Past President Lee Pollan, DMD, MS, President-Elect Ira Cheifetz, DMD, OMSPAC Immediate Past Chair Michael Menis, DDS, President R. Lynn White, DDS, Representative John Shimkus, Bruce Bobofchak, DDS, MS, and Vice President Larry Moore, DDS, MS