Washington, DC—On Thursday, May 1, 2014, more than 300 orthopaedic surgeons from around the country will converge in Washington, DC to meet with their congressional representatives as part of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference (NOLC). Attendees will discuss with their members of Congress issues including a permanent repeal and replacement of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, correcting the imbalance between health care professionals and health plans through antitrust reform included in H.R. 4077, and protecting sports medicine professionals who provide medical services in a secondary state by enacting H.R. 3722/S. 2220.
Permanent repeal and replacement of the SGR formula remains a top priority of the AAOS. NOLC participants will urge leadership to work together to attain bipartisan offsets and pass permanent SGR reform by the end of the year. H.R. 4015/S. 2000, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, takes significant steps toward allowing physicians and other health care providers to design systems of care that best serve their patient populations through new and innovative care delivery models.
“The cumulative cost of enacting temporary patches now exceeds the cost of a permanent SGR fix,” stated Thomas C. Barber, MD, Chair of the AAOS Council on Advocacy. “Continuing the reckless system of patch after patch is harmful to the economy and to Medicare patients seeking access to specialties they desperately need. The AAOS has worked diligently with all committees of jurisdiction to put into place real reform and we look forward to final passage of H.R. 4015/S. 2000 by the end of this year.”
NOLC participants will also raise awareness about the importance of protecting health care professionals engaged in contractual negotiations with a health plan for the delivery of health care services from federal antitrust prosecution. Current antitrust enforcement policies and recent health care industry consolidations enable a select few health plans to dominate the health care market, resulting in market power that imposes unilateral, non-negotiable contracts onto physicians. H.R. 4077, introduced by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Benishek, MD (R-MI), provides an antitrust exemption for physicians engaged in negotiations for private reimbursement with insurance companies, thereby leveling the playing field between physicians and private insurers and improving access to high-quality care.
In addition to SGR repeal and antitrust reform, NOLC participants will ask Congress to support H.R. 3722/S. 2220. Introduced by Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA), Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), along with Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), this legislation protects sports medicine professionals from civil and criminal malpractice liability when they provide care to athletes at sporting events in another state. Sports medicine providers should not have to choose between either treating injured athletes at great professional risk, or reducing athletes’ access to timely healthcare services, and this bill ensures injured athletes have timely access to the highest quality of care so they can return to their active lifestyle as soon as possible.