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AMA Considers MACRA, Other Issues Important to Kentucky Physicians

The American Medical Association considered many issues during its Annual Meeting in Chicago last week (June 11-15, 2016).

Bruce Scott, MD, of Louisville, who was re-elected as vice-speaker of the AMA House of Delegates, said the hundreds of issues discussed at the meeting are relevant and important to the daily practice of medicine for physicians.

“Our profession is being challenged from so many directions, it is essential that all physicians get involved,” Dr. Scott said.

KMA President Theodore Miller, MD, PhD, of Edgewood, has been attending the AMA meetings for five years. He believes it’s important for physicians to be involved in organized medicine not only at the state level, but the national level as well.

“Through active participation in organized medicine, membership in the AMA provides a way for the individual Kentucky physician to join with other KMA members in order to have our voice heard on the national level,” Dr. Miller said. “In this way, we can influence policymakers in Washington on topics important to our profession. The greater our participation in the AMA through increased numbers of active members, the more effective Kentucky physicians will be on the national level in working for the benefit of our patients as well as for the benefit of our profession.”

One of the hottest topics at the meeting was MACRA, Medicare Physician Payment Reform.

“MACRA is the biggest change in physician payment since the RVU (Relative Value Unit) system,” Dr. Scott said. “The AMA is actively working with the administration to improve MACRA for practicing physicians.”

Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt spoke to the House of Delegates and expressed a willingness to work with the AMA, according to Dr. Scott.

“Our AMA recognizes the challenges of the MACRA, particularly for solo and small practices,” he said. “The AMA is developing educational modules and other resources for physicians to help with the transition.”

The AMA took action on several other major issues that impact physician practices every day, including maintenance of certification (MOC), particularly high stakes examinations, the continued challenges of EHR and meaningful use.

Members also addressed public health issues, including pending legislation on opioids, Zika funding and, particularly given the attack in Orlando, gun violence, Dr. Scott said. AMA also continues to advocate for improved graduate medical education funding and veterans’ access to physicians.

In addition to the policy discussions, attendance at the AMA offered opportunities to meet and network with colleagues from across the country, Dr. Miller said.

“These opportunities to meet physicians from across the country who share a passion for organized medicine have been invaluable to me,” said Dr. Miller. “It becomes apparent that they face largely the same problems confronting organized medicine in their localities that we face here in Kentucky. We can learn from each other’s experiences, both successful and not, to advance the health of our patients and the goals of organized medicine on the local and national levels.”

Kentucky was well represented at the AMA meeting. Outgoing AMA President Steven Stack, MD, of Lexington, awarded the Presidential Citation to the late Rice Leach, MD, for outstanding service in promoting the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Dr. Leach, who died earlier this year, is only the fifth person in AMA history to receive this citation and this is the first time AMA recognized an individual posthumously.

Other KMA delegates to the AMA were Gregory Cooper, MD, of Cynthiana, chairman of the Southeast Delegation to the AMA and KMA senior delegate to the AMA; John Roberts, MD, president of the Greater Louisville Medical Society and chairman of the AMA Academic Physicians Section; David Bensema, MD, of Lexington; Donald Swikert, MD, of Union; Frank Burns, MD, of Louisville; William Monnig, MD, of Crestview Hills; Robert Zaring, MD, of Louisville; James Beattie, MD, of Bowling Green; Robert Couch, MD, of Louisville; and Shawn Jones, MD, of Paducah.

Other KMA attendees were Ardis Hoven, MD, chairperson of the Council of World Medical Association; former KPPAC Chair Kim Moser and incoming president of the AMA Alliance; KMA Alliance President Patty Pellegrini, KMA Alliance Past President Rhonda Rhodes; KMA Board of Trustee member Neal Moser, MD, and KMA Executive Vice President Pat Padgett who served as chair of the AMA litigation center.

Monalisa Tailor, MD, of Louisville and Danesh Mazloomdoost, MD, of Lexington were Delegates of the Young Physician’s Section of the AMA. Jonathon Moore, MD, was a Delegate of the Residents and Fellows Section of the AMA.

Dr. Miller lists four primary reasons participation in the AMA is important for Kentucky physicians—“opportunities to build the physician’s personal professional knowledge base; opportunities to gain expert support in practice and career development; opportunities to obtain special financial savings through group purchasing power; and, finally opportunities to make the individual physician’s voice heard on the national level and to be involved in work that makes a difference for the profession of medicine.”

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