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 Weekly Member Update - December 2, 2011

Dr. Gurman: AMA Advocates For Us In Various Ways

AMA Membership Update

Volunteer's Note

Last Chance: Don't Miss Fingertip Injuries Webinar

Call for Weiland Medal Applications

Thank You to AFSH Donors

CMS Issues Key Guidelines for Anti-Fraud Predictive Modeling Program

Medicare Physician Payment Cuts Loom

Have You Made Your Practice More Efficient Through Automation?

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Dr. Gurman: AMA Advocates For Us In Various Ways

In 2006, Congress passed a law that mandated a 3% withhold from all government contractors.  It was interpreted that this would apply to physicians as Medicare contractors.  After multiple implementation delays, this was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012.  Advocating on behalf of all physicians, the AMA was able to secure passage of legislation this month to repeal the withhold.

In this space over the last month or so, several leaders of ASSH have discussed our Society’s position with respect to our seat in the AMA House of Delegates, and how important it is for all of us to either join or renew membership in the AMA so that we can keep our seat.

The example above is just one of a large number of areas where the AMA advocates on behalf of all members of the profession.  I'll discuss a few more below.  The common theme in all of these items is that they are not exclusive to hand surgeons, but they certainly affect us in our practices.
The ASSH or even the entire surgical community acting through AAOS, ASPS and ACS, does not have the presence or standing to be the definitive voice of Medicine on these issues, and that's the reason I believe we all must support the AMA.
As many of you know, I have the privilege of being the Speaker of the AMA House of Delegates the crown jewel of American Medicine.  The House is where policy is made, and that policy guides the way the AMA acts.  The Hand Society's seat in the House guarantees hand surgeons a voice and a vote when that policy is made.

I know there is disagreement among some members of our community regarding the AMA's position on Health System Reform.  That's a long and complicated discussion; one that I'm happy to engage in, but one not easily suited to this forum.  Hand surgeons benefitted from AMA involvement in that the original bill had increases in reimbursement for primary care that would have been paid for by reductions in payments to specialists.  The AMA successfully negotiated to find other funds to cover this expense.  Recognizing that discussion on this issue will persist for years to come, I think we have to move on, because there are so many other important issues that need attention.

Here are just a few things we've recently been working on:

ACO's: The final rules were changed in response to AMA input regarding risk exposure for physicians.  Read more.

E-Prescribing: After significant advocacy from the AMA, CMS took the rare step of opening up the regulatory process to expand exemptions available to physicians who would be unfairly penalized a group that includes hand surgeons.

Lab signature requirement retracted; secret shopper survey abandoned: Both of these were problematic for physicians, and the AMA was the leading advocate for their disappearance.

There are many others, and they can be accessed through the AMA website.  You can also sign up for membership there.  As an AMA member, you can receive updates through publications such as AMA Wire and Advocacy Update, which are emailed to members.
Best wishes to you all for the holidays.

Andy Gurman, MD
Speaker, House of Delegates
American Medical Association

AMA Membership Update

AMA rules stipulate that in order to qualify for a seat in the AMA House of Delegates, 25% of our members must be AMA members.  We'd like to recognize those who have answered the call to either join or rejoin.

ASSH members who notified us this week (via email or the Listserv) that they've joined or rejoined the AMA: 

John M. Agee, MD
Donald P. Condit, MD, MBA
William B. Ericson, Jr., MD
Bobby J. Wroten, MD 
Have you recently joined or rejoined the AMA?  Please let us know by contacting so we can track the progress of your AMA membership.  ASSH will reconcile our membership list with the AMA to get credit for our members in early 2012.

Have your voice heard: Join the AMA.

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Volunteer's Note
The Public Education Committee is made up of 20 members and is part of the Practice Division of the ASSH.  The committee produces and edits the patient education content that is featured on and is available for purchase as printed brochures.  There are more than 60 brochures, covering topics such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fingertip injuries and congenital hand differences.
The committee meets yearly at the ASSH Annual Meeting to discuss issues and to appoint committee members to either produce new brochures or to edit existing ones.  It takes a great deal of time and dedication from the committee members to do this work, and we greatly appreciate their efforts.  Hats off to all the committee members for their contributions!

An exciting addition to the ASSH catalogue of educational brochures is "Common Conditions of the Hand & Upper Extremity: A Primary Care Perspective," which can be purchased and given to referring and potential new referring physicians.  The brochure helps educate our non-hand surgery colleagues and is a members-only benefit that can be used to market individual practices.  Check it out on the ASSH Online Store!

We have recently worked on two new issues with the Evidence Based Practice Committee.
The first involves health care literacy; specifically, making sure patients fully understand our content.  Medical content should be at a 4th-6th grade reading level to be most effective.  We are in the process of revamping all our brochures to meet this requirement.
The second issue involves ensuring that the statements made in our brochures are backed by the best available evidence.  We plan for a double vetting process the Public Education Committee will edit brochures first, and the Evidence Based Practice Committee will help by doing spot checks on a few brochures per year.  We believe this process will allow us to provide the best possible patient educational content.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Steve K. Lee, MD
Chair, ASSH Public Education Committee

Last Chance: Don't Miss Fingertip Injuries Webiner

The ASSH will present an Online Consultation Corner webinar on fingertip injuries on Monday, December 5, at 8:30 p.m. EST.
Those who would like to attend must register by 7:30 p.m. EST on the night of the webinar.  The session will provide an opportunity to review and discuss real cases, with time for questions/answers about examination, diagnosis and treatment.
The webinar will be hosted by Ghazi M. Rayan, MD and moderated by Scott D. Lifchez, MD.  The consultants include David T. Netscher, MD, and Steven L. Peterson, MD.  Designed as an online version of the popular Clinical Consultation Corners at the Annual Meeting, this is your chance to participate in discussions and get direct feedback to your questions from colleagues and thought leaders.  Learn more and register.
Call for Weiland Medal Applications

Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Andrew J. Weiland Medal for Outstanding Research in Hand Surgery.  The medal is awarded annually to a mid-career researcher dedicated to advancing patient care in the field of hand surgery.

The award is a $20,000 unrestricted gift and will honor a hand surgeon-scientist who has contributed a body of research that advances the field.  The medal recognizes and supports outstanding research in order to continue Weiland's vision for the field of hand surgery.  It will be awarded to a mid-career surgeon who is less than 55 years old or a surgeon who is less than 15 years from hand fellowship training.  The medal will be presented at the 2012 ASSH Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The deadline for submitting an application is April 2, 2012. To learn more about the award, visit the Weiland Medal page on the ASSH website.

Thank You to AFSH Donors

James R. Boatright, MD
Dale G. Bramlet, MD
James Chang, MD
John C. Crick, MD
Jeffrey A. Deren, MD
Kenneth J. Easterling, MD
Douglas M. Freedman, MD
Paul W. Gorman, MD
Steven J. Heithoff, DO
William E. Hooper, MD
Ryan R. Karlstad, MD
Mark P. Koniuch, MD
Andrew D. Markiewitz, MD
Steven A. Maser, MD
Thomas L. Mehlhoff, MD
Milan M. Patel, MD
Alexis J. Roettinger, MD
Mitchell B. Rotman, MD
Jason Schneider, MD
Daniel I. Singer, MD
Stephanie Sweet, MD
Nathan L. Taylor, MD
Brian A. Torre, MD
Steven M. Wenner, MD
Jan P. Zegarra, MD FACS

Did you know you can now support the Foundation (AFSH) through automated monthly payments?  Visit to complete an auto-pay form, or contact

CMS Issues Key Guidelines for Anti-Fraud Predictive Modeling Program - from AMA

Concerned about the potentially burdensome effects of a new program to identify fraudulent Medicare claims, the AMA has secured key program guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Launched on June 30, CMS's predictive modeling program reviews all Medicare claims prior to payment, flagging claims that could be fraudulent.  The program analyzes data in a fashion similar to credit card companies that identify fraudulent transactions.  Read more.

Have your voice heard: Join the AMA.

Medicare Physician Payment Cuts Loom - from AAOS

An article in the Washington Post summarizes ongoing issues in addressing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Unless the U.S. Congress acts, physicians who accept Medicare face a 27.4 percent reduction in reimbursement under the SGR beginning January 1, 2012.

The author of the article points out that in previous years, Congress prevented the cuts by adding to the deficit, but recent rules enacted by Congress require such spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.  Staving off cuts required by the SGR for one year is estimated to cost approximately $22 billion, while a similar 10-year "fix" would cost about $300 billion, making a long-term solution unlikely.  Read more.

Have You Made Your Practice More Efficient Through Automation? - from AMA

The AMA has implemented a Rapid Process Improvement Initiative to encourage more physicians to automate their practices for optimal efficiency.

In what ways have you chosen to automate your practice?  Let the AMA know. Apply for the AMA's Certificate of Accomplishment.  Take advantage of the opportunity to share your success with your peers and gain deserved recognition.

For more information, contact Alice Bynum-Gardner at

Have your voice heard: Join the AMA.