AMA's Wilson Confident in Group's Influence

November 15, 2010
Keith L. Martin

In a recent interview with Physicians Practice, American Medical Association President Cecil B. Wilson puts aside the notion that the group is no longer relevant and when asked if it still represents the majority of U.S. physicians, adds a confident "You betcha."

In a recent interview with Physicians Practice, American Medical Association President Cecil B. Wilson puts aside the notion that the group is no longer relevant and when asked if it still represents the majority of U.S. physicians, adds a confident "You betcha."

Wilson spoke with us for a podcast series on issues facing the nation's physicians, including a looming, double-digit cut to Medicare reimbursements. In the first part of this series, Wilson renews the AMA's push to get Congress to enact a 13-month delay in any payment cuts through the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. This longer delay, he says, will give the AMA the power to sit at the table with the nation's lawmakers to find a solution to the "draconian" SGR formula, under fire from physicians for years.

In its quest, the AMA has partnered with the AARP and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), to call upon Congress to not jeopardize the care of seniors, our troops, and their families by enacting the costly cuts. He also outlines the "disruption" to practices nationwide if, as occurred in June, Congress lets the cuts take effect, only to retroactively stop them in a month or two.

As the AMA uses its power to influence Congress -including the upcoming "White Coat Wednesday" (Nov. 17) where doctors will personally call their senators- Wilson says the AMA is as powerful today as it was prior to the signing of the Affordable Care Act.

In the second part of our podcast series - now posted on PhysiciansPractice.com - Wilson says the "distress and anger" expressed by physicians regarding the reform bill mirrors that of many Americans. Furthermore, he says, rumors of a mass defection from the AMA over its support for reform is "markedly overblown," Wilson says.

"I wish every physician paid dues [to the AMA], but they don't," he told us.

Restating a position from his blog on the AMA Web site, Wilson says the AMA is still the most powerful medical association in the U.S. and whether its 250,000 dues-paying members truly represent the nearly 954,000 physicians nationwide, he emphatically answers, "You betcha."

Wilson even discusses the looming departure of the AMA's CEO, Michael Maves, after nearly a decade of service, not due to backlash from the group's reform stance, but as a "mutual decision" by Maves and the board.

In the third part of our podcast series, Wilson discusses some current topics at the forefront of physician interest: accountable care organizations and the use of social media. He discusses the AMA's recent policies on both topics, as well as new ways the group is aiding practices in selecting and utilizing health information technology.

We hope you enjoy these podcasts and want to know what you think of Wilson's answers, so be sure to add your comment below each broadcast.