Outgoing AMA president urges doctors to move medicine forward

At the end of his yearlong term, Cecil B. Wilson, MD, tells physicians to work together to put the nation on the path to good health.

By Damon Adams — Posted June 18, 2011

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In a call to action to the nation's physicians, AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, urged doctors to "move forward" and work for changes to improve the health care system.

Speaking at the opening of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago on June 18, Dr. Wilson said Congress needs to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula and replace it with a mechanism that pays for costs of care and enhances quality and care coordination. He also called on Congress to approve legislation that allows Medicare patients and their doctors to contract privately without penalty.

Dr. Wilson said moving forward means correcting areas of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, such as the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, which "puts physicians in double jeopardy by adding yet another target to the currently discredited SGR."

"Moving forward means bulldogging the regulatory process to assure that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented in ways that benefit physicians and their patients," Dr. Wilson told delegates gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for the meeting through June 22.

Dr. Wilson also spoke to the AMA's position on the health system reform law, saying the Association is mindful of the differences of opinion about its position.

"We respect that people of equal good will, of equal intelligence, in equal possession of the facts and of equal loyalty to a group or position may form far different opinions about the course we take," he said. "But to the vast majority of the public, our patients, and the press, and in government, the AMA speaks for doctors in this debate."

The reform law will be a key topic at the AMA's annual policymaking meeting of more than 500 delegates. The delegates will consider resolutions that seek to withdraw or maintain support of requiring individual responsibility for health insurance, a key component of the reform law.

Delegates also will discuss more than 200 other proposals, which include supporting taxes on soft drinks to prevent obesity, adopting ethical recommendations for writers of medical practice guidelines, promoting national legislation banning "bath salts," and discouraging marketing incentives that encourage consumption of unhealthy food by children.

During the opening session, Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, a Colorado psychiatrist and speaker of the AMA House of Delegates, was named AMA president-elect. He will serve as president after Peter W. Carmel, MD, DMSc, who will be inaugurated as AMA president on June 21 and serve for one year.

"What an enormous honor and a privilege," Dr. Lazarus said after delegates elected him.

House Vice Speaker Andrew W. Gurman, MD, was elected to replace Dr. Lazarus as house speaker when Dr. Lazarus begins his term.

In his final address to delegates, AMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA, looked back at some of the AMA's accomplishments during his 10 years at the Association. Dr. Maves announced in November 2010 that he would step down on June 30 after holding the position since 2001. James L. Madara, MD, will become the AMA's top executive starting on July 1.

Dr. Maves said 2010 marked the 11th consecutive year of operating profits for the AMA, and he discussed strides made in connecting with the nation's physicians.

"With hundreds of specialty and subspecialty associations out there, it's particularly important to make sure that our impact as physicians is not fragmented -- that at least one voice is powerful enough to be heard by everyone, and that voice is the AMA," he said.

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