With the help of many osteopathic physicians on the front lines, the AOA was successful at key points last year in advocating for legislation to support the osteopathic community and their patients.
From the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of the year, the AOA worked with osteopathic affiliates, students, and DOs to support funding and policies to increase the availability of PPE, coverage for telemedicine, financial relief and liability protections, graduate medical education funding, and to protect patient access and physician payment.
During DO Day 2021, taking place virtually March 7-8, physicians and osteopathic medical students will have more opportunities than ever before to build their advocacy skills, which can help them take an active role in the important health care policy discussions happening this year.
David Pugach, JD, AOA senior vice president of public policy, explains how DO Day will be different this year in this edited Q&A.
This year, for the first time, DO Day will include a full-day health policy conference. Why was that added to the program?
We’re interested in providing our DOs and osteopathic medical students with additional tools they can use to develop their advocacy skills and be more prepared to use them year-round and at the state level as well. This year, we are also offering physicians AOA and ACCME CME credit for attending DO Day. Participants can earn 5.5 AOA category 1A credits or 5.5 AMA category 1 credits.
The conference will have tailored learning tracks for physicians, students and affiliates to allow each participant to get the most out of the experience.
For instance, the physician track will include sessions on addressing the challenges of COVID-19 and policy changes that can reduce physicians’ administrative burnout. The student track will include sessions on discussing student debt with lawmakers and professional development.
Why will participation in Congressional meetings be limited?
Over the last year, we’ve held several smaller advocacy events, some of which were virtual. What we heard from physicians and students is that the Congressional meetings were far more effective and people had a much better experience when the group size was smaller.
Our takeaway from those events was that we wanted to increase the education and training we’re offering and ensure that the Congressional meeting sizes will help us advance our dialogue and help constituents build and strengthen their relationships with lawmakers.
This year, we are limiting the participation in Congressional meetings while keeping conference attendance open to anyone interested in the health policy and advocacy program. All attendees are asked to register using their home address to help us cover as many Congressional districts as possible in each state. This will also help us coordinate smaller groups for meetings.
Why is this an important event for DOs to attend, and what can they expect to experience this year?
As anybody involved in health care, especially DOs on the front lines of the pandemic, recognizes, it’s critically important for health care professionals to be involved in the development of laws that directly affect their ability to care for patients. There is no substitute for lawmakers hearing directly from their constituents, especially individuals directly involved in health care.
DO Day is an opportunity at this unique time for attendees to learn about important current health policy issues and receive advocacy training to enhance their skills. They also have the opportunity to earn a limited amount of CME credit for this experience as well.
Lastly, they will be able to meet with their members of Congress and their staff to advocate for several specific pieces of legislation that have a direct impact on their ability to practice and care for their patients.