The year 2017 saw AID fight for independent doctors and showed gains in growth, exposure and successful battles.
1. We spoke up and out in Washington. AID made several trips to Capitol Hill this year. In March, AID Executive Director Marni Jameson Carey presented to the National Physicians' Council for Healthcare Policy on "The Abuse of the Tax-Exempt Status of Nonprofit Hospitals in America." While there, she met with aides from the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to express the concerns of independent doctors in their states. Carey shared four moves lawmakers could make that would save the country $100s of billions, improve access, and help doctors.
2. We added three state chapters. Doctors in Vermont, Pennsylvania and Texas banded together to form three new state chapters of AID this year. The addition of Vermont in April, and Pennsylvania and Texas in November brought the total number of AID chapters to six. Chapters give independent doctors a vehicle through which they can be active locally and have a stronger voice on the national stage. The doctors will also benefit from AID's infrastructure, national reach and resources.
3. We saved our members thousands in Med-Mal premiums. AID signed a deal with Coverys, an A rated provider of medical malpractice insurance, that allows AID members in all 50 states to get a 15% discount off med-mal premiums. Since the program started, more than a dozen doctors have made the move to switch to Coverys, support AID, and save an average of $5,000 a year on premiums. (For more information or to take advantage of this member benefit, click here or contact Karyn Richcreek at 407-790-1435 or Karyn@aid-us.org.)
4. We fought the hospital and won. Shortly after forming a Vermont Chapter, AID played a key role in helping the doctors there end a two-year battle to build the state's first independent, multi-specialty surgery center, which area hospitals had aggressively opposed. AID brought the matter to the FTC's attention, and filed a letter during the open comment period with the board responsible for issuing the certificate of need. Until then, the board had favored the hospital. The letter got picked up by local and national media, which let regulators know the nation was watching. The board's subsequent 4-1 decision in favor of granting the CON allowed the independent doctors to build their freestanding outpatient center, and introduce competition into a general surgery market previously controlled by hospitals.
5. We got covered. A former health reporter, Carey established a contributing editor relationship with Forbes, and published her first Forbes editorial, "Focus On Health Coverage Misses The Point," an overview of why health care costs so much and how to fix the problem.
In addition, AID was widely quoted in medical industry news outlets, including such publications as Medical Economics, Bloomberg, Becker's, Orlando Medical News, Practicing Physician, and Central Pennsylvania Business Journal.
The Today Show came to AID's office to tape a segment on how health-care consolidation is harming America. However, the breaking news involving sexual misconduct among Hollywood's elite caused NBC to postpone the segment indefinitely.
6. We became part of a coalition. As part of Practicing Physicians of America, a bipartisan coalition of doctors' organizations, AID joined a grassroots consortium of medical organizations that includes Let My Doctor Practice, Doctors 4 Patient Care, Physicians Working Together, Physicians for Physician Independence, United Physicians and Surgeons of America, among others.
The coalition held its first meeting in February, in Washington DC, where Carey spoke in the Library of Congress to physicians and lawmakers on "What Is Good for America's Independent Doctors Is Good for America." Two 20-minute YouTube recordings of the talk have had several hundred viewings. PPA has a social media reach in excess of 100,000 doctors nationwide. What these groups have in common is that their members are all fed up with the liberties government, hospitals, and insurance companies have taken at doctors' and patients' expense.
7. We testified for transparency. On behalf of independent doctors. Carey testified in Tallahassee before the Florida House of Representatives Health Innovations Subcommittee in favor of a transparency bill, Patient Savings Act, HB449. Though the legislative session ended before the house and senate could vote, the bill is well positioned for the 2018 legislative session. The Patient Savings Act requires hospitals and insurance companies to make prices available, so patients can comparison shop, then share in the savings. The idea for a shared savings incentive came from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples, Fla., based think tank. The FGA is working to move similar bills forward in 18 states, and has already passed the bill in Maine.
8. We added new vision. Five new members joined AID's executive committee effective Sept. 1: Amy Cooper, executive director of HealthFirst in Vermont; Dr. Cristin Dickerson, radiologist with Green Imaging in Houston; Dr. Brenda Holson, retired pediatrician from Winter Park, Fla.; Dr. Matthew Knight, Orlando dermatologist; and Dr. Scott Pollak, Orlando cardiologist. Selected for their perspectives, vision and strategic leadership, AID's 16 executive committee members agree to serve three-year terms, develop membership, be outspoken advocates for AID, seek opportunities for AID to present, help open doors to decision makers, and participate in conference calls three times a year.
9. We held Town Halls. In October, AID canvassed the country hosting town hall meetings for AID chapter members in California, South Carolina and Florida. Each meeting featured a busy networking hour, followed by dinner, remarks from local speakers, and a presentation from AID's executive director on what AID was doing on the national and local levels to help independent doctors.
10. We fought for competition and site neutrality. In fall, Carey went back to Washington to meet with attorneys from the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition to discuss how AID members could work with the FTC to prevent health-care consolidation and enforce antitrust laws that harm competition. While there, she also met with a representative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to discuss how AID could help promote site neutrality - paying the same for a procedure whether done in an independent doctor's office or a hospital outpatient department -- a goal the current Medicare administration and AID share.