Director’s Update- September 2020

Greetings fellow South Carolinians! As the ASA heads towards their year end (Oct 1-Sept 30) I wanted to give you an update on the ASA, it’s activities, and the upcoming Annual Meeting.  For the FIRST time ever the ASA Annual meeting can be attended from the comfort of your own living room (or porch.. it is getting much nicer out!). For just 99$ you can get up to 27 CME’s, you can watch the House of Delegates meet, watch reference committees, and I believe they are working on setting up a spot where you can engage with vendors virtually as well. Just think… in the past you had to get the time off, buy a plane ticket, hotel rooms, restaurant tabs, and pay to attend. I have to say that I really enjoyed the travel part every year, but my bank account will love the 99$ better this fall! 

Reports from our CEO indicate that ASA is maintaining financially. At the start of the 2020 year, (last October) membership remained strong however in the spring when the pandemic hit our renewal rate dropped off. Income expected from live meetings has dropped as expected but we have had strong growth year after year in our online CME sales. AQI is finally reaching self-sustaining status and income is up over expected.  We are, however, prepared for the ASA to suffer a financial loss this year so keep this on your radar going forward.  The ASA’s number one goal is being your advocate, your resource, and your champion. We have to get everyone to stay members and support this endeavor as much as possible.

Our new public relations campaign is getting underway (madeforthismoment.asahq.org) and the ASA is are highlighting our jobs as Anesthesiologists during the pandemic to make our patients and administrators more aware of all that we do. The ASA has developed tremendous resources for our members to access as relates to COVID-19, and put out a ton of Townhalls on different topics to keep you all informed over the last six months.  All of the ASA committees and the ASA Board of Directors have been using technology to keep on top of the business of the ASA. And speaking of technology… the ASA is putting together a more user-friendly online Community platform for ALL members to engage other members on any topic/ any interest group/etcetera. Imagine being someone who does a lot of ambulatory surgery… there will be an online group for you to join through the ASA where you can share information and best practices, ask others questions, generally discuss patient management, and network with other like-minded physicians.  The number of communities will start out small (more focused on practice interests), but over time I hope to see state and regional communities develop as well so members will have a way to discuss issues that impact you in a regional manner.

Mitigation of the 33% problem is a key element within ASA’s Economic Strategic Plan initiative. As you all may (or may not know) with the institution of RBRVS back in the 1990’s, the reimbursal for anesthesia services took a nearly two thirds hit. We have worked tirelessly at the national level to get this fixed but due to the nature of the source of the funding (one big pot) to correct this would mean taking money from other specialties/services. This has been a nonstarter over the past decades. Now adding insult to injury, CMS has recently increased E&M codes which starting in 2021 will reduce anesthesia payment another estimated 9%.  There will be an upcoming General Accounting Office (GAO) report that we expect will show that anesthesia services have been extremely devalued by Medicare… how the 33% problem still exists, and in fact how the gap between Medicare and commercial rates has expanded. Work continues here by the ASA and several of it’s committees and Task Forces.

ASA has stayed engaged politically and legislatively on bills concerning Surprise Medical Billing, Scope, and the VA issue. We have been a leading voice politically with the Pandemic, and the Opioid crisis. I could write an entire report on all of these issues alone and I am happy to share further information from the ASA, but I think you have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about some of this. If you have NOT joined the ASA Grassroots, this is a great way to stay informed on the issues and get help on contacting your legislators when needed. https://www.asahq.org/advocacy-and-asapac/grassroots

A new issue that has cropped up on the ASA radar is the use of Ketamine outside of health care.  A story from this year highlighted the use of ketamine to subdue individuals for law enforcement purposes. Unfortunately, an individual was given a very high dose and died. In response, the ASA has issued a statement on the use of ketamine for non-medical purposes. (https://www.asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2020/07/asa-statement-on-the-use-of-ketamine-for-a-non-medical-purpose

The South Carolina Society of Anesthesiologists stepped it up on the ASAPAC day of contribution.  I appreciate the fact that even when everyone has been hard hit financially by the pandemic, you all still understand and support the advocacy mission of the ASA. As of the first week of September, the SCSA is at #2 on the giving percentage overall. I could not be prouder of you all and your commitment. I would ask that you review your own practices and get those partners who have not contributed to help everyone by participating.  It’s not the dollar amount, it is getting everyone to pitch in and share in the burden that a strong advocacy team cost. And plain and simple it is not fair to those who give, to have those who don’t to just ride your coattails. https://www.asahq.org/advocacy-and-asapac/asapac

Lastly, I would like to finish with our current ASA President’s(Mary Dale Peterson) words ……

“Unprecedented is also the word I think of when it comes to the courage, dedication, innovation and support you have shown in dealing with these various crises and challenges. We have shown that we are stronger together throughout this year. You have blessed me with your many letters of gratitude, hope and support during many dark days. Out of the tragedies we have experienced this year, I am confident that we will emerge stronger – our Society has responded to the needs of our patients and our members; we have answered the calling. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your 2020 President and to advocate for you, for the Society, for the specialty and for the  patients we serve.”

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything, and like Mary Dale, it is MY honor and privilege to serve as your ASA Director.

Jennifer Root, MD, FASA

roxane1@sc.rr.com

803 528 7566