Just Drive Faster by Pat Conrad MD



“I guess what we do is just drive around this circle here” – Clark Griswold, “European Vacation
As the summer hits high gear, we hit one of my favorite mileposts of the calendar, the annual changing of the AMA president.  The old guy gives his farewell editorial in the American Medical News, and we get a feel-good on the incoming champion.
The latest farewell reads, really, like every other one for the past few years and as much as anything hewed to the summer vacation theme, namely, National Lampoon’s “European Vacation.”  Okay, it wasn’t a very good flic, and certainly the worst of the franchise.  But it did have Chevy Chase & family stuck on a London roundabout for hours, ending up exactly where they began, giving a perfect model for an outgoing AMA president.
In his adios address, AMA prez Jeremy Lazarus, MD waves the company flag from the balcony, reiterating the AMA to be the “voice of America’s physicians”, and an “amazing organization.”  This year’s accomplishments:
– Helped organize physician organizations to petition Washington for greater gun controls (more government).
– After the Supreme Court affirmed Obamacare but not a mandatory Medicaid expansion, the AMA “mobilized to … assure access” (more government).
– Advocated to eliminate Medicare’s Sustainable Grow Rate payment alchemy, with the usual result (no fix, more government).
– Established a $10 million grant-funded medical education initiative, to be doled out to selected med schools (Where does the grant money come from, private endowments, government grants, or AMA coffers?  The AMA site doesn’t specify, but it will certainly strengthen the ties between the professional medical lobby and the Ivy Tower, both of which have their strings pulled by government).
– “Improving health outcomes initiative” in which the AMA has taken a renewed, heroic stand against heart disease and diabetes, partnering with the Dept. of HSS, and CDC respectively (more government, more government… Because U.S. physicians didn’t know they were supposed to treat these problems, or maybe they were just too busy trying to pay for AMA-advocated EHR’s to counsel their patients regarding these problems).
– Laughably, the “third strategic focus”  enhancing professional satisfaction and practice sustainability, is “progressing” (which is a lot funnier than anything in “European Vacation.”
Prez. Lazarus winds it down, assuring his colleagues that “physicians want and demand a strong and effective AMA…we have accomplished a lot during the past year, but the AMA’s work is far from over..”  And so, another circle on the D.C. roundabout, unsure of how to exit, but really, really proud to be there.
No, there’s really no new info, just a reminder that summer is here, once again.
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