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New President’s Prescription for PAMED: Stay Aggressive on Physician Issues

By Scott E. Shapiro, MD, FACCNote: Guest blogger Scott E. Shapiro, MD, FACC, will become President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society on Oct. 24, 2015. This post is an excerpt of his address at PAMED’s House of Delegates.

When each of us entered practice we inherited the then current state of medicine. But that doesn’t mean we have to pass on the bad with the good to the next generations of physicians. We have a unique opportunity through OUR PAMED to create a future in medicine that will impact millions of Pennsylvanians.

As physicians, we have an obligation to look out for the welfare of our profession and of our patients.

As you know, OUR PAMED is in a state of change. This is not your father’s PAMED. This is OUR PAMED.

OUR PAMED is bold, it is active. And, as our successes over the past several years have shown, this is a much more vital organization than ever before.

OUR PAMED continues to sharpen our focus on to those things that matter most to Pennsylvania physicians and patients. And most importantly, like never before, we are listening to and hearing from members across the state.

What we are hearing is clear. You want a more active and aggressive PAMED. We are making that happen here in Harrisburg.

We should learn a lesson from our Mcare fight. OUR PAMED could have very easily sat on its hands, allowing millions of dollars that physicians and hospitals paid to be diverted from Mcare. PAMED could have done nothing out of fear listening to those voices that whispered it might upset some politicians, take too much money to sue, or focus on other issues that were urgent at the time.

But OUR PAMED didn’t sit idle. OUR PAMED made a gutsy move to challenge the state in a court of law and in the media. I can tell you that many of us involved in this decision had our stomachs turning inside out.

And even in the face of things looking bleak, we stuck to our convictions, aggressively pursuing what we knew was right. And when we stepped up to the plate, just like Reggie Jackson in October, we hit the ball out of the park.

Because of that bold move, every physician – regardless of PAMED membership – benefited from our work to settle the case.

Over the past 14 years on the board of OUR PAMED I have been fortunate to speak with and, more importantly, listen to physicians of all specialties across the commonwealth. A common thread to these conversations leads me to the single presidential recommendation for this year.

Our PAMED needs to maintain an aggressive approach, with a laser focus, on all issues we all agree are important to physicians and patients today to help us better shape the dynamically changing landscape of medicine in Pennsylvania.

This recommendation to always maintain a visible aggressive strategy is not a specific program or even a policy to start in the coming year, but more importantly, I believe it to be a tactical recommendation that through the tone and tenor of our work to come, we can further solidify the reputation and respect of PAMED as THE aggressive, active, and single effective voice representing all physicians across Pennsylvania.

When Dr. Peter Lund was president, he used many sailing analogies. I’m not into sailing, but I am a hockey fan. His analogies brought to mind for me two hockey quotes that sum up what I am recommending to OUR PAMED:

The first was from hockey great Wayne Gretzky:

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

I have seen how great a physician advocacy organization OUR PAMED can be when we set up those shots and then are not afraid to shoot.

The second was made just before what was arguably the greatest American sports achievements of all time, from Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 Miracle on ice US Olympic hockey team:

“We’re not going to be hanging around waiting for something to happen. We’re going to make things happen ourselves.”

OUR PAMED isn’t sitting on the sidelines and waiting. We are making things happen.

Right now, PAMED leadership is working hard on issues, including scope of practice, Maintenance of Certification, and value based payments. We are providing physician leadership to help end the state’s opioid abuse crisis.

And we need to continue to address issues of vital importance to both employed and private practice physicians, including but not limited to the medical liability climate and fair reimbursement by the states payers.

I am challenging our leadership to make sure we continue to address these and other issues in the coming year with the same aggressive strategy, focus and determination that we used with our Mcare fight.

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