Western Slope update
AMA president, CMS leaders visit Grand Junction and Montrose
by Krystle Medford, Membership Director
American Medical Association President Barbara McAneny, MD, made two stops in Colorado in September to hear directly from physicians on the Western Slope on unique issues they are facing and to discuss areas of focus currently being addressed by the AMA: confronting the increasing chronic disease burden, attacking dysfunction in health care that interferes with patient care and reimagining medical education.
McAneny listened carefully to each physician and reassured them by stating, “We [AMA] are listening. We support our colleagues in the care of their patients and listen to the concerns that affect their communities.”
Accompanied by Colorado Medical Society leaders – President Robert Yakely, MD; President-elect Deb Parsons, MD; past president and CEJA Chair Lynn Parry, MD; and past president Dave Downs, MD – McAneny met with the Mesa County Medical Society membership at their monthly meeting on Sept. 4 and then traveled to Montrose for a Curecanti Medical Society meeting on Sept. 5.
As a practicing oncologist/hematologist who founded the New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque – McAneny’s career has centered on serving minority and underserved populations including rural, Native American and Hispanic patients. Over the course of her medical practice she has recognized the need for systemwide change in health care. Following her installment as AMA president in June, she has pledged to work to address patient access to care, the high cost of care and regulatory burdens on physicians.
In this short time she has already overseen the creation of the Coalition to Reform Prior Authorization following an AMA survey that revealed 91 percent of physicians believe prior authorization delays care, causes patients to abandon treatment and negatively affects outcomes. The coalition aims to eliminate and streamline federal rules and regulations for prior authorization and improve usability and interoperability across electronic health records (EHRs).
She also addressed Medicaid expansion, acknowledging that while it is a state-by-state issue, the AMA believes that the program is an important safety net for patients – particularly for women, children and low-income elderly. She and others at the AMA recognize that Medicaid seldom pays for the cost of providing care and she assured the audience that they are working to address this.
“None of us can do what we do without a lot of other people doing what they do,” McAneny said. “That is why we are stronger when we work together.”
The AMA president and CMS leaders also spent time with the editorial board of the Grand Junction Sentinel (newspaper) to discuss the opioid crisis on a national and local level and how the reporters could translate the issue to their audience. The physicians shared their thoughts on how organized medicine is working to address the epidemic through partnerships and collaborative efforts. “We are working in tandem to tackle the opioid crisis,” Yakely said. “We are deeply concerned about the issue and we are working to educate our members.”
Posted in: Colorado Medicine