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Address of the Executive Vice President

Saturday, June 12, 2010

AMA Annual Meeting
Chicago, Ill.

Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA
Executive Vice President and CEO
American Medical Association

Good afternoon and welcome to Chicago — home of the Stanley Cup champion Black Hawks.

Much has changed in the world of health care since I spoke to you at our interim meeting in Houston. But one thing hasn't changed: The AMA is as committed as ever to serving the needs of America's physicians and patients.

Before you turn your focus to the reports and resolutions before you at this meeting, I'd like to update you on some important AMA initiatives and developments.

It has been said that "good things, when short, are twice as good."

In the spirit of brevity then, I'd like to highlight some key AMA efforts in a short "Top Ten list" — 10 issues that warrant your attention and are key to shaping AMA success in 2010 and beyond.

Number one: AMA Membership

Based on May 31st, 2010 numbers — we are projecting a 5 to7 percent decline in our 2010 membership count.

While this is not welcome news, it's not entirely unexpected either.

Clearly, not all physicians agreed with our position on health system reform—and our decision to support the final legislation cost us some members. No doubt about it.

But in addition, nine states chose not to participate in the Partnership For Growth this year. And historically, there’s been a 12-13 percent decline during the first year these agreements end — so that's been a contributing factor as well.

If we exclude the states that have dropped the PFG or de-unified, our membership total at the end of May would be down 3.4 percent — comparable to the declines experienced over the past few years.

Also, the AMA’s experience is not unique. In a recent survey by the American Society of Association Executives, more than half the groups responding reported a decrease in member retention. Only 10 percent showed an increase.

The AMA faces the same challenges as other membership organizations. Physicians and other professionals are being more selective in how they spend their membership dollars — if they spend them at all.

In response to these factors, the AMA continues to intensify our outreach and recruitment efforts. And we're working harder than ever to reach physicians and improve our value proposition.

Number two: AMAgine.

One important initiative we’ll be using to re-engage physicians is our new Web portal — AMAgine — which will provide physicians with products and services to help them in their practices.

AMAgine is currently being pilot-tested by 400 physicians and practice staff in Michigan. They're offering valuable feedback on the platform as we move toward a national launch this fall.

AMAgine will offer information on the latest clinical guidelines at the point of care. And it will help ease the adoption of health information technologies such as e-prescribing and electronic health records.

Our platform will also help physicians qualify for up to 44 thousand dollars in H-I-T incentive payments that will be available over a five-year period beginning next year.

For those of you who are not familiar with the AMAgine platform, stop by the exhibit area and check out the demo.

Number three: The Litigation Center of the AMA and the State Medical Societies.

While the AMA's advocacy group fights for reform in Washington, the Litigation Center fights for justice in the nation's courtrooms. And we've had significant victories.

Most notably, thousands of physicians are now eligible to receive a share of the 350 million dollar UnitedHealth Group settlement — the culmination of a decade-long, Litigation Center legal effort.

In addition, on May 21st, the Litigation Center filed suit to block the "red flags rule" for physicians.

This bureaucratic headache threatens the patient-physician relationship — and we're going to try to stop it.

As physicians you don't have the time to police insurer and government activities. But rest assured, the AMA Litigation Center is on the case.

Number four: Private sector advocacy.

The AMA's private sector advocacy group continues to push for improved relations between physicians and insurers.

The "Heal the Claims Process" campaign is going strong, and on Monday our private sector group will release the third annual National Health Insurer Report Card. This annual document evaluates the business practices of insurers as they relate to physicians. And it helps focus attention on unfair practices.

You should also be aware of the recently released Health Insurer Code of Conduct Principles. Developed by the AMA and endorsed by 68 state and specialty medical societies, the code outlines 10 principles necessary for an efficient, patient-centered health care system.

We've sent it to the nation's top eight insurers—and we're calling on them to adopt practices that are consistent, transparent, and accountable.

Number five: State Legislative Advocacy

When the AMA and your medical societies work together with a common focus — we can accomplish great things on behalf of our members.

Over the past year the AMA helped state and specialty societies secure 30 legislative and regulatory victories at the state level.

We're currently working in 16 states on medical liability reform. And we’re collaborating with 39 states and specialties to track more than 300 pieces of legislation related to scope-of-practice issues. More on that in a moment.

Number six: JAMA/Archives

Under our outstanding editor-in-chief, Dr. Cathy DeAngelis, the Journal of the American Medical Association continues to be a leader in the medical publishing world—offering incisive, peer-reviewed articles of the highest editorial integrity.

And while the editorial side of JAMA remains unsurpassed, we are taking steps to improve our publishing infrastructure, and to make JAMA’s valuable research more accessible to physicians.

I'm happy to report that we’ve found just the person to help us—Elizabeth "Betsy" Jones, the new Senior Vice President of periodic publications.

Betsy has spent more than 20 years in publishing, most recently as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Health and LWW Journals in Philadelphia.

In her new role at the AMA, Betsy and her team will work to enhance business operations, revenue, profitability and growth of JAMA/Archives.

She'll bring the same level of excellence to JAMA's business side that can be found in its award-winning content.

Number seven: Our Scope of Practice Partnership

In the ideal health care system, each player — physician, nurse, physician assistant, lab technician — performs a unique role in caring for patients.

During the past year the AMA Advocacy Resource Center and the Scope of Practice Partnership has continued working with you to protect the role of physicians.

We helped you defeat attempts by optometrists to perform laser surgery in West Virginia.

We helped you defeat attempts by lay midwives to practice without any supervision in Idaho and Wyoming.

And we helped you defeat attempts by podiatrists to broaden the definition of the foot to include structures and tissue above the foot.

Whenever non-physicians try to treat patients outside the boundaries of their education and training, the AMA will be there.

Number eight: Quality.

For ten years, our Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement has devised performance measures that are clinically relevant, address gaps and variations in care, and are essential to quality medicine.

Today, the PCPI has identified more than 270 performance measures in 43 clinical topics or conditions.

The consortium is also working with the health IT community to integrate performance measures into electronic health records. And today they're recognized as a leader in this field.

Number nine. Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response.

The past year has seen its share of disasters and public health challenges. On January 12th, the devastating Haiti earthquake killed 230,000 people and injured another 300,000.

Within 48 hours the AMA launched a Web site providing physicians and relief workers with vital disaster-related educational resources.

Within 96 hours, we collaborated with the CDC and others to host a webinar attended by more than 1,500 health care professionals.

We also put together a volunteer physician registry. To date, more than 1,000 physicians have signed up.

Currently, the AMA's disaster relief team is busy helping to monitor the health implications of the Gulf oil spill.

No matter what the disaster or public health challenge, the AMA continues to do its part.

And finally, number 10: AMA Staff

I want to acknowledge the extraordinary dedication and commitment of our AMA staff. They are working harder than ever to deliver on your behalf.

And as much as I respect their knowledge and expertise, I also admire their passion — not just for the work they do every day, but for their willingness to go above and beyond in order to make a difference.

The initiatives I just outlined and the mechanics of this meeting are just part of the work they do. But let me share another side of the story.

During the past year alone, AMA employees have raised more than 30 thousand dollars for a variety of causes—such as the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund and the American Stroke Association.

Last month they donated to the Sister Soldier Project, sending 300 care packages to women soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's the kind of AMA staff you have working on your behalf. They are not only smart and dedicated, but caring and generous.

I'm proud they're part of the AMA — and trust that you are too.

This top 10 list could just as easily have been a top 100 list. Because every day brings new developments, new efforts, and new milestones in the AMA's quest to serve America's physicians and patients.

While you are out in the field, caring for America's patients, my job is to care for the interests of the AMA. And I am helped in that effort — everyday — by the dedicated staff in Chicago, Washington and New Jersey.

It has been a challenging time for the AMA — and more challenges lie ahead. But we don't run from them — we embrace them.

We're dedicated to doing what's best for our patients and our profession. That's why we became physicians. And that's why we joined the AMA. Thank you. # # #