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The American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association of physicians organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.

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N. Martin Giesecke, M.D., Chair

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January 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 1
Administrative Update: ASA: 2013 John M. Zerwas, M.D., ASA President Member, Texas House of Representatives


At the time of this “Administrative Update,” the elections have just ended and the political dust is settling. President Obama has earned a second term, and the balance of power for the 113th Congress is largely unchanged; a Democrat majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House. So we start the year 2013, politically, exactly where we left it.

Regardless of the political landscape, ASA has positioned itself to control its destiny rather than be the victim of an unknown future paradigm. Our focus on “Advancing the Practice and Securing the Future” is our lighthouse in the pursuit of controlling this destiny. All of our goals and initiatives are tested by this simple strategic focus and will require a steadfast commitment on the part of ASA leadership, membership and staff.

First among these initiatives is Advocacy. Under the leadership of our interim CEO, Dr. Barbara Fossum, we have restructured and realigned our staff to meet the ever-increasing challenges ahead. In addition to the legislative agenda, the regulatory environment has become a distinct challenge. This is most evident in the recent ruling by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which allows for nonphysicians to be paid for the practice of medicine in the specialty of chronic pain diagnosis and management.

Though we had more than 1,700 responses on a “call to action,” CMS ignored its responsibility to protect patients and curb an ever-increasing problem with prescription drug abuse. This simply tells us we need to increase our game to make our voice heard. We are a society of more than 48,000 members; we can do better and must do better than a 3.5-percent response rate to such an important issue that impacts the practice of medicine. If we expect to define our destiny, we must continue to increase our support of the ASA Political Action Committee, and we must increase our numbers in the ASA Grassroots Network. I urge all of us to take a few minutes on the ASA website www.ASAhq.org and become a part of both of these important initiatives, which are instrumental in securing our future.

Equally important to our members is Education. Under the leadership of Arnold J. Berry, M.D., Vice President for Scientific Affairs, and Diane Gambill, Ph.D., ASA’s Chief Learning Officer, the society continues its quest to be the premier resource for anesthesiologists’ education in the pursuit of lifelong learning. Our largest outreach effort is seen at our annual meeting, the world’s premier educational meeting. The 2012 meeting was a great success and we look to build on this for 2013 in San Francisco. The ASA Conference on Practice Management grows yearly, and we anticipate breaking registration numbers above 1,000 this year. Finally, our annual conference on legislative affairs continues to be well attended and a great return on investment for the members. There are exceptional benefits to our members enrolled in Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA®) as they pursue the requirements of that program. As we look to the future, ASA is dedicating substantial resources and volunteer physician energy in order to be an indispensable part of your practice.

  • “Future Models of Practice” has emerged front and center as health care delivery and compensation continue to evolve. I am not sure about the ultimate direction health care will take, but I am absolutely certain ASA will stand ready to meet the needs of our members by bringing necessary resources to promote the value of anesthesiologists in the new health care paradigm. Our Committee on Future Models of Anesthesia Practice, led by Mike Schweitzer, M.D., will continue to scan the horizon for opportunities to promote the Perioperative Surgical HomeTM as an essential concept to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care.
  • Our Director of Health Policy Research, Tom Miller, Ph.D., M.B.A., is on board and making terrific strides in this area. He is working closely with an engaged group of our ASA members, the Advisory Group on Health Policy (AGHP). It’s time for our medical specialty to stop playing a one-sided game of defense and to start bringing credible, useful literature to our lawmakers whereby sensible patient-focused policy can be promulgated. I am very pleased to see this development, which came out of action in the 2010 House of Delegates.
  • The Anesthesia Quality Institute (AQI) is becoming increasingly recognized among members and other organizations as the gold standard for defining quality in our specialty. Personally, I am comfortable submitting data to improve my practice, but I am absolutely opposed to being defined by “data” coming from an ill-informed governmental body or, perhaps worse, an insurance company. Special thanks to Richard Dutton, M.D. and the AQI Board of Directors for making this another extraordinary ASA member benefit.
  • The ASA Committee on Large Group Practice, chaired by Pat Giam, M.D., was constituted to address the unique needs of a growing number of members who are becoming part of so-called “mega groups.” We look forward to identifying the unique role ASA can play in this practice style along with all the other practice styles; academic, uniformed services and other traditional practice styles.

  • There are numerous great benefits to ASA membership. Though I’ve highlighted some of these areas, there are many more – all highly relevant to our practices. All these elements of our specialty come alive because of the incredible volunteer spirit of our membership. What an exciting privilege it is to have fellow anesthesiologists lined up to be part of the greatest specialty organization in the world.

    Today ASA is strong and vibrant. This is a consequence of the many years of devotion by those who have preceded us all. And likewise, the legacy of this great profession will be defined by your involvement today. Future generations of anesthesiologists and their patients will be the beneficiaries of your commitment to the practice of medicine and your vigilance toward patient safety. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your ASA President, to which I have pledged a full measure of my time and energy. I truly believe our best days lie ahead ... if we choose to control our own destiny.



    John M. Zerwas, M.D. is an anesthesiologist with Greater Houston Anesthesiology, PA, Houston, Texas. He is a Member of the Texas House of Representatives.


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