how ASMA is
fighting for you
In the August Heartbeat, I
encouraged all physicians to not only join their Alaska State Medical
Association, but become more active participants in ASMA. In this column I want
to update you on what ASMA has been doing for you in 2019 and suggest ways for
you to be more active in your state medical association.
However, before I continue, I want to
clarify some possible misconceptions about this organization. ASMA is not part
of the American Medical Association. You are not required to be a member of the
AMA to be part of ASMA. We are sometimes asked by the AMA to sign on to some of
its public policy initiatives. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. We work to
improve the health care of all Alaskans and for Alaska’s physicians and
physician assistants, not for the AMA. Membership in ASMA does not imply
approval (or disapproval) of the AMA’s political or public policy; we are an
independent medical association.
Another myth I have heard propagated is
that ASMA is run by and for primary care physicians only and only is concerned
about issues related to primary care. The truth is the association’s Board of
Trustees and House of Delegates are composed of many specialists, along with
primary care physicians.
I actually became more involved in ASMA
after I complained to the organization about what I felt was a lack of support
for specialists who were under a continued media barrage of negative public
forums and articles.
I learned two things: ASMA’s silence was
based on lack of involvement by specialists rather than lack of concern, and be
careful what you complain about! Many articles were subsequently authored in
social media and the Anchorage Daily News, launching ASMA’s medical “truth-in-advertising”
campaign over the past 24 months. I fully expect attacks on Alaska physicians
to resume in the media over the next few months, as the legislative session resumes
and we again become one of the targets for further budget cuts.
ASMA has been active in 2019 working for
This organization successfully fought to
convince state officials to exempt physicians from an arbitrarily imposed
“72-hour” rule prohibiting payment for Medicaid patients if documentation for
the provided service had not been substantively completed within three days.
ASMA was able to convince the state to
exempt pediatricians from Medicaid rate cuts. We were not successful protecting
all of our physicians from those cuts but will continue to inform all lawmakers
of the potential repercussions and impact their sometimes-uninformed decisions
have on the health of Alaskans.
Under Executive Director Mike Haugen’s
guidance and visionary thinking, ASMA was able to start a leadership training
program for physicians, with experts as the training faculty. The first eight
physicians have been selected and the program will begin this winter. (See
related article in this issue.) Aided by The Physicians Foundation, ASMA has
partnered with an organization whose expertise is training physician leaders,
and the cost to participants will be minimal.
The Alaska State Medical Association needs
your involvement and membership to continue our momentum:
►Write an article for your local paper or
social media to make sure the truth about the health care you are providing is
told. ASMA has resources to help.
►Apply for the leadership program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (907) 562-0304 for details.
►Inform your state legislators about
issues in health care. More often than not, we are silent while a few self-proclaimed
experts in state agencies or the Legislature author policies and laws that
interfere with our ability to take care of our patients.
congressman and U.S. senators, too.
►Attend ASMA’s annual meeting to make sure
you stay informed and your voice is heard. The next one is scheduled for Saturday,
May 2, 2020 at the Embassy Suites in Anchorage.
We can’t succeed without you.