AMA President: Physicians United in Vision and Commitment
(01.08.13) One of the highlights of the Florida Medical Association (FMA) meeting in Orlando, Florida, USA last weekend was the presence of Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, President of the American Medical Association. Dr. Hoven, installed earlier this summer as the 168th AMA president, spoke to the FMA House of Delegates at its opening session. She reported that membership in the AMA has increased for the second consecutive year. This reflects an overall growth rate in 2012 of 3.2 per cent. Membership in the AMA now numbers 224,503.
Dr. Hoven outlined for the delegates some of the issues facing the country, and in her words: “…how the AMA is shaping the debate and assessing the big picture”. She reported that progress is being made in Congress for eliminating the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. This is a formula by which physicians’ fees are set for Medicare, the US federal program that pays for medical care for seniors. The SGR, in place for over a decade, is a flawed formula that has caused physician fees to lag far behind the rate of inflation.
She also described progress in passing legislation that would allow physicians and patients to privately contract for care outside the Medicare system. According to Dr. Hoven the AMA continues to successfully work with the government to make the rules for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) such that physicians can participate in leadership. ACOs are alternative payment and delivery organizations provided for in the health system reform legislation passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of the AMA’s efforts almost half of the 250 ACOs that have been established since ACA was passed are physician-led.
On another issue of importance to physicians, health care teams, Dr. Hoven said: “…the AMA continues to work to ensure that health care teams remain physician-led. While some argue that nurse practitioners should be granted authority to practice independently from physicians to help meet primary care needs, these arguments are oddly ill-timed. Health care delivery and payment models are in fact heading in the opposite direction. The AMA believes that increased use of physician-led teams of multidisciplinary health care professionals can have a positive impact on our country’s health care needs. And since physicians bring to the team the highest level of training and preparation, we believe that physicians are the best suited to guide the other members of the team.”
Dr. Hoven detailed the status of the three initiatives that make up the AMA’s new strategic plan. These include improving the physician practice environment, supporting changes in medical education and improving health outcomes for the nation.
She said: “…our support for private practice physicians extends to our strategic plan where our work with the Rand Corporation is analyzing diverse practice settings, including private practice, to help identify models that work. Our work in this area is all about ensuring that every physician in every practice environment can thrive in our evolving health care system.
And in June, the AMA announced the 11 recipients of our five-year grant opportunity in our medical education initiative. We’ll partner with these schools and form a learning consortium to share best practices on an ongoing basis. Moreover, we’ll showcase successful innovations and promote their adoption in medical schools nationwide.
Meanwhile, our work toward improving health outcomes is addressing two chronic conditions that all of us see far too often: cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Hoven concluded her remarks with a call to action. “By working together, we have an opportunity to accomplish in the months ahead what some may think impossible. We can combat the epidemic of chronic conditions plaguing the nation, foster innovation in medical education and improve health care technology so we don’t have to spend two hours at the end of the day typing data into an EMR. The power of organized medicine is such that I really believe we can accomplish all these things. By standing together, united in vision and commitment, we physicians can shape the health care system this country needs.”
I agree with my friend Ardis Hoven. United in vision and commitment we can accomplish the seemingly impossible.