I first want to congratulate Dr. Scholnick on being named a “Future Star” by Podiatry Management magazine. That’s quite an accomplishment! Reading his commentary, I agree with him. When it comes to our professional organizations, transparency and accountability are important attributes. I am writing this response, however, to express some concerns that I have with the comments made regarding APMA. I feel that Dr. Scholnick has either been uninformed or misinformed.
I would like to address a few of the specific comments that were made: “There are many conflicts of interest with the APMA… .” If he was referring to potential conflicts of interest for individual members of the Board of Trustees, you can view a clearly stated list of professional relationships for each on the APMA.org website. If the conflicts were concerning the Annual Scientific Meeting (The National), I can tell you that all potential conflicts of interest by speakers are required to be disclosed; APMA has a compliance officer at every continuing education session at the meeting; and any corporate grants are unrestricted educational grants, meaning that the corporation has no say about how that money is designated or who the speaker for that segment would be. APMA actually goes above and beyond CPME recommendations regarding this.
“…and it is debatable at best about where one’s annual dues go.” This statement, I can tell you, is simply false. I don’t know how much more transparent APMA could be concerning financials. In fact, there is an APMA Finance Committee, the annual budget (in detail) is sent out to all members of the APMA House of Delegates (elected members from all recognized components within APMA) well ahead of time to review and comment during the Finance Committee meeting during the HOD. APMA’s funding goes to a number of important programs for members, some of which include federal and state advocacy, practice management and coding, JAPMA and the APMA Registry, among many others. At the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, the board spent several hours reviewing the budget, as they always do during their February meeting. Finally, an external audit is done yearly to verify that APMA has operated with fiscal responsibility.
“The APMA, just like every physician, needs not be complacent.” APMA, it seems, has an unfair reputation for not being progressive. In fact, APMA is often at the forefront of national advocacy efforts against discrimination from insurance companies. Here’s a recent example: Anthem BCBS wanted to pay 50 percent of the fee schedule for the -59 modifier. APMA fought this change, succeeding in first lowering the reduction to a 25% cut, then in persuading Anthem to eliminate the reduction altogether. That piece of advocacy alone saved members well over $100 million a year. Again, APMA has created a registry that will provide much-needed data on podiatric care that will be used on behalf of its members to prove the value of podiatry and strengthen negotiating power with insurance companies.
As an organization, APMA recently underwent a comprehensive review by a well-respected, outside consulting firm that gave recommendations on how to restructure APMA, the Board of Trustees, and the House of Delegates to make APMA a stronger organization. Many of those recommendations have been seriously considered, and there are a number of proposed bylaws changes being discussed at the upcoming HOD to implement the suggestions. Some of those bylaw changes are meant to enfranchise Young Physician members such as Dr. Scholnick and myself. Those changes include term limits for delegates as well as a Young Physician vote on the Board of Trustees.
In addition, APMA has placed a tremendous focus on young physicians and the future of podiatry. I personally chair the Young Physicians Leadership Panel, which has worked closely with staff in developing educational and other resources for young physicians. APMA has an Educational Needs Task Force specifically examining the needs of residents and practicing young physicians to help ensure it is relevant to the next generation of physicians.
I hope this information addresses some of those comments made about APMA, but I think seeing is believing. The APMA House of Delegates meeting takes place in Washington, DC, March 16–19. The House of Delegates is open to all members, except when in executive session. Stop on by!
Stephen C. Schmid, DPM, Young Physician Liaison to the APMA Board of Trustees
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