Here are a couple of questions I received from UMDNJ students. Feel free to post other questions for us to discuss.
Has the AOA offered an alternative economic plan to Congress such that Residency programs are not tied to cuts to the SGR? Will the AOA try to separate the legislation of billing for Medicare and Medicaid from the legislation that enables hospitals to have residencies?
This question is difficult to answer since the Medicare program and its financing is often not delineated by issue. The AOA is very concerned with the impending cuts in Medicare physician payments, which are driven by the flawed sustainable growth rate formula. In January, physicians participating in the Medicare program face a 27.4% cut in their payments. This cut is followed by additional cuts over the next decade. For more on the AOA’s position about this issue, I encourage you to read the letter I wrote to The Hill, http://images.magnetmail.net/images/clients/Osteopathi/attach/AOAOpEdiTheHill.pdf
The AOA also has significant concerns about the financing of graduate medical education and the ability to expand training capacity in the near future. We are balancing the need for expanding opportunities and the financial constraints of such a policy. The financing of GME has been a volatile political issue for more than a decade – since the enactment of the Balanced Budget Act in 1997. We are confident that GME financing will be sustained. Whether that is at the current levels is yet to be determined. The AOA will continue to promote maximum funding for GME.
The last part of the question asked if the AOA was working to separate the physician payment and GME issues in legislation. While this is ideal, it is simply not how the process works. Since both are Medicare programs, both are historically included in the same legislative packages.
Would it be possible in the near future to see any kind of TV commercials or other advertisements giving brief explanations to the public on what Osteopathic medicine is all about, including what OMM is, our views on the body as a whole, etc? I know that we always are advocates for our profession when we do OMM and tell people about osteopathic medicine, which is probably the most powerful means of spreading the word about us. I think that such advertising would only help our efforts and get people more inclined to ask more questions about us and visit websites such as the AOA's, which has HUGE amounts of information!
To run an effective national advertising campaign requires a significant multi-year investment, one that would easily cost millions of dollars. Over the past few years, we have used television and radio to promote the profession but our budget allowed us to run the campaign in a specific market—the Chicago area. These spots did increase traffic to the AOA website, Osteopathic.org.
I’m glad to hear you recognize that we all need to do our part to promote the profession. And, we provide a number of tools and resources to help the osteopathic family carry out this task. Through the Osteopathic Public Awareness Network, in the members-only are of Osteopathic.org, you’ll find public service announcements, template releases, and toolkits for hosting mini-medical schools just to name a few.
We’ve also got a dedicated group of staff in the Department of Communications whose primary responsibility is to heighten the profession’s profile. This team works with media to raise awareness for DOs and osteopathic medicine and to dispel misconceptions about DOs. In 2010, AOA media relations efforts reached an estimated audience of 424 million people. The publicity value—a way to measure the financial value of a media story by estimating the price that an advertisement would be worth in the medium the story appeared—generated by the AOA reached an estimated $1.3 million in 2010. I encourage you to visit the AOA’s media center,http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/news-and-publications/media-center/Pages/media-coverage.aspx
, regularly to see where we’re being covered in the news.