ISASS – A Member of the American Medical Association-Specialty & Service Caucus

Dear ISASS Members:

As announced last year the ISASS is undertaking the process of being a part of the AMA House of Delegates. The House of Delegates serves as the policy-making body for the AMA, and consists of delegates representing each of the 50 state medical societies, and over 100 national medical specialty societies. We have grown and evolved enough as a professional society that now is the time to add our voice, the voice of the spine surgeons from around the world – along with the six other orthopaedic societies now enjoying representation – to the AMA House of Delegates. . Policies developed and approved by the House of Delegates drive AMA advocacy efforts in Washington, myriad state capitols, and the commercial health care market. The AMA still maintains a large and influential presence in those arenas, and we feel it is imperative that our voice be a part of the AMA, and that our policy and advocacy goals can be further enhanced by our participation in this body. Involvement will:

  • Increases our legitimacy and credibility within the orthopaedic community, throughout the wider medical society world and within the entire health care arena.

  • Provides our society with an official voice as an advisor to the CPT Editorial Panel, and as a representative to the CPT Relative Values Update Committee (the RUC). As new technologies and procedures emerge in spine arthroplasty, it is imperative that we have a seat at the table when CPT codes are created or modified, and when CPT codes are valued through the RUC process.

  • Gives our society a seat within the AMA Physician’s Consortium for Performance Improvement (the Consortium). The Consortium is one of the leading bodies driving the development of performance measures that are increasingly being used by Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health insurers to improve physician performance and to modify physician payment in accordance with adherence to recognized measures. As performance measures are developed with regard to spine and spine arthroplasty, it is critical that ISASS is leading this effort.

Obtaining a voting seat in the AMA House of Delegates is a three-year process, which allows us: to identify ISASS physician leaders who are willing to represent us at the twice-yearly House meetings; to learn more about how business is conducted within the House of Delegates and how we can best be impactful; and, to increase our AMA Membership market share so that we meet the thresholds set by the House for voting representation. Gunnar Andersson, MD, the most recent addition to the ISASS Board of Directors represented the ISASS during the October mid-year meeting held in Houston, TX. The following will highlight the meeting:

  • ISASS is now a recognized medical association in the AMA's Specialty & Service Society caucus. Our participation in AMA meetings going forward will afford us a voting seat in the AMA's policy-making body - the House of Delegates - within three years. Such a designation will allow ISASS official participation in the CPT and RUC process, and continue to add credibility and legitimacy to our society within organized medicine, and specifically within the surgical community.

  • The AMA continues to debate their existing policies and actions related to the US health system reform. Even while the US House of Representatives approved their version of reform legislation, the AMA continued to debate whether or not to be on record as supporting a public option, or a plan that does not include meaningful tort reform. Specialty societies, led in part by the orthopaedic section council, were pushing for the AMA to repeal their support for the House bill, along with modifying their policies to repudiate any public option and to ensure that any reform does not negatively impact patients' access to needed specialty medicine and surgeries.

  • A wide spectrum of medical and surgical specialty organizations, led by neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and others, expressed serious concerns with the AMA's Council on Ethical & Judicial Affairs' latest draft report on Financial Relationships with Industry. Numerous medical societies expressed concern that CEJA's ethical guidelines were too restrictive, and did not recognize best practices in medical education, particularly with regard to surgeons' relationships with industry in advancing new technologies and insuring that surgeons were getting access to the latest training and education techniques that would allow their patients access to newer, better devices and therapies. It is expected that the CEJA report will not be adopted by the House of Delegates, and will instead be referred back to CEJA for yet another revision.