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1. Six anesthesiologists represented West Virginia last week at the ASA Legislative Conference in Washington DC. They attended informational sessions on anesthesiology practice issues, healthcare politics and communicating effectively with representatives and regulators. They also visited congressional staff in their Washington offices.

WV anesthesiologists in the office of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito

WVSSA visit Congresswoman Capito 2013

(L-R) Drs. Ralph Harding, Drew Rodgers, Christina Julian, Robert Johnstone, Brian Grose, Alex Skaff

  • The Legislative Conference had its largest attendance ever, especially with more residents. Mayo Clinic now requires its anesthesiology residents to attend both an ASA Legislative Conference and a Practice Management Conference before finishing their training.
  • Congressman Andy Harris, who represents the first district of Maryland, spoke at both educational and political session during the conference this year. Rep Harris is an obstetric anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins and the first anesthesiologist elected to congress. He discussed federal spending ($3.54 trillion in FY2012), the current federal debt crisis, the high cost of US healthcare ($8650 per person in 2011), and the increasing cost of Obamacare ($989 billion per year to $1.3 trillion according to Congressional Budget Office). An illustration used by Rep Harris of rapidly expanding debt under  current conditions and a recently proposed Republican plan.

WVSSA Republicans Debt Free Future 2013

    • Several speakers predicted that the Medicare cuts required each year by the sustainable growth rate formula (SGR) would be replaced with another program. SGR is what has kept Medicare payments so low, well behind general cost increases.
    • Patrick Conway, who leads quality management programs for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, discussed emerging payment programs. He stated there is no silver bullet for improving healthcare quality, that CMS must use multiple incentives, and that CMS must show new alternative payment programs can improve quality.
    • Key anesthesiology issues covered at the conference included: improving rural access to anesthesiologists, ensuring fair payment for anesthesiology care, easing drug shortages, empowering patients to know and select their anesthesia clinicians, and maintaining quality of anesthesia care by ensuring anesthesiologist involvement. Many rural hospitals function as Medicare critical access hospitals, which allow the hospitals to pass through payments to nurse anesthetists, but not anesthesiologists, to Medicare. Correcting this inequity has proven difficult because nurse anesthetists are campaigning to keep it, while promoting themselves as the main providers at rural hospitals. This is obviously a key issue for West Virginia.
    • The six WV anesthesiologists met one evening over dinner with counterparts from Arizona, New York and Massachusetts. Networking is one benefit of attending the Legislative Conference. More WVSSA are encouraged to attend next year. WVSSA pays the expenses for residents who attend.
    • After the Legislative Conference dates were set, congress scheduled itself to be off last week. This meant that WV senators and representatives were at home, not in Washington. Attendees met with congressional staffers, particularly healthcare aides, in their offices. Most attendees will meet with their legislators in their home states, particularly during site visits and fundraisers.

2. ASAPAC. Congratulations to the anesthesiology residents at WVU. All have contributed to the American Society of Anesthesiologists Political Action Committee (ASAPAC) for 2013. The residents view this as an investment in the future of anesthesiology and their careers. The mission of ASAPAC is “To advance the goals of the medical specialty of anesthesiology through the bipartisan support of candidates who demonstrate their commitment to patient safety and quality of care.” ASAPAC provides political support for ASA’s advocacy efforts and allows our members to participate in the political process. All WVSSA members should contribute to the ASAPAC to help our advocacy efforts, and to ensure a safe environment for patients. We have many challenges to our practice and needs for advocacy. Contribute at, Or WVSSA members can send a check made out to ASAPAC to Dr. Johnstone, Secretary-Treasurer, who will forward it to ASA and request a PAC pin.

3. WVSSA Annual Meeting. The WVSSA will hold its Annual Education and Business meetings on August 24 and 25, at the Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, WV. Educational speakers include John Abenstein, MD, ASA First Vice President, and Jerry Maccioli, MD. Annual Meeting attendees always rate the educational meeting highly. The education meeting is planned for Saturday from 8am to Noon, and the business meeting on Sunday from 8:30 to 11am, both in the Fillmore room. Coffee and pastries will be available during the sessions. The WVSSA meets in conjunction with the WV state medical association meeting, Healthcare Summit. Members can attend the anesthesiology education session with no registration fee. Early booking of reservations at the Greenbrier is encouraged. Call The Greenbrier directly at 1-877-394-4137, and tell them you are attending the WVSMA/Foundation Healthcare Summit to receive our special discounted room rate of $269 per night for a standard or intermediate room. Find information about the Healthcare Summit at,

4. Newsletters. Find past issues of our Newsletter on the WVSSA website at,

5. David Graf, MD, a founding member of the WVSSA who served the society in several capacities over the years, recently retired from practice.

6. Upcoming Meetings The Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists will hold a Clinical Anesthesia Symposium next weekend at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, VA. The WVSSA co-sponsors this meeting. Find information about the meeting at, American Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting will be October 12-16 in San Francisco.

7. WVSSA membership. We have had an excellent response from WV anesthesiologists with most who practice in the state already re-joining for 2013. The drop date for members who have not paid their 2013 dues is May 29. Membership offers many advantages, including access to ASA and WVSSA meetings, newsletters and educational materials. A recent story is of a WVSSA member asked to review the records of an anesthesiologist named in a malpractice suit, who declined to become involved when he discovered the anesthesiologist was not a member of the professional organization. Members can pay their dues on line at,

8. New RAND Survey. The ASA is conducting a survey of member practices, to update the 2010 RAND study. Anyone who received a request to participate from the ASA should do so. A high response rate improves the study reliability. The previous RAND study influenced both ASA and national policies. Find a copy of the RAND study, at,

2013 WVSSA officers and their e-address:

President/Delegate             Brian Grose, MD –

President-Elect/Alt Del      Michael Panger, MD –

Secty-Treas/Director         Robert Johnstone, MD –

Alt Dir/Delegate                 Alex Skaff, MD –

WVSSA officers are always glad to hear from members and to help with any issues.

Robert Johnstone, MD

WVSSA Secretary

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