Oncologist McAneny Chosen as President-Elect of AMA

Ken Terry

June 14, 2017

CHICAGO — The delegates at the American Medical Association (AMA) 2017 Annual Meeting here chose Barbara L. McAneny, MD, an oncologist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, as their new president-elect on Tuesday.

Dr McAneny is a practicing physician and cofounder and CEO of New Mexico Hematology Consultants Ltd, a multidisciplinary oncology practice. She also built and manages the New Mexico Cancer Center, which provides comprehensive medical and radiation oncology care and imaging in several underserved areas of New Mexico.

"It is a deep honor and privilege to be elected a leader of an organization that is committed to serving as a strong physician voice and a dedicated patient advocate," Dr McAneny said in a news release. "The AMA will play a pivotal role in the changing health care environment as our nation confronts pressing health care issues. With vision and perseverance, I look forward to creating a brighter future for patients and the medical profession."

The AMA president-elect has been extensively involved in organized medicine. An AMA board member since 2010, she served as board chair from 2015 to 2016. Before her election to the AMA board, she served on the board for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and was the ASCO delegate to the AMA. She has also been president of the New Mexico Medical Society, president of the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association, and president of the New Mexico Chapter of the American College of Physicians. She served as chair of the AMA Council on Medical Service from 2009 to 2010.

She is the first oncologist in this position, noted ASCO President Bruce E. Johnson, MD. "In our national dialogue on access to health care, patients with cancer often highlight the broader challenges facing the entire system," he commented in a statement. "The awareness Dr. McAneny brings, as an oncologist at the helm of the largest physician association, will benefit patients and providers broadly."

He also noted that during her service  for ASCO, "she provided critical insights into the challenges facing community oncologists, passionately testified before Congress, and continuously advocated on behalf of oncologists and patients with cancer. I am confident that she will bring this same energy and leadership to the American Medical Association."

Positions on Issues

Dr McAneny revealed where she stands on some major issues during debate here at the AMA annual conference with her rival for the president-elect spot, Stephen R. Permut, MD, JD.

To begin with, she said, "The healthcare system values hospitals, health plans and insurers over patients. We need a new system led by doctors on behalf of patients."

Dr McAneny's attitude toward hospitals springs from her group's experience with a big New Mexico healthcare system that owns a health plan. The practice developed an advanced model of cancer care, she said, and the healthcare system tried to use its dominance in the market for health insurance and inpatient services to drive the group's cancer center out of business. The group filed an antitrust suit against the system. Dr McAneny said that she drew upon this experience when she later testified to Congress against the mergers of some large national health insurers.

Dr McAneny said she opposed the assumption of financial risk by physicians. The AMA needs to educate doctors on the risk of taking risk and to work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) "on setting targets we can hit," she said. This was a clear reference to CMS's effort to induce physician practices to take on risk by participating in the advanced alternative payment model track of its Quality Payment Program.

Asked how the AMA can help private practice and employed doctors, Dr McAneny responded, "Private practice is under stress and going broke. We need to teach young doctors how to stay in practice." As for employed physicians, she said they should remember that "administrators work for us, not the other way around."

Dr McAneny also gave a clue on how she might approach expanding access to care and decreasing costs. She noted that in her group's cancer center, "we focused on the specialty medical home." The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation became interested in this initiative and gave the group a grant to continue its innovations, which saved money and improved the quality of care, she said.

American Medical Association (AMA) 2017 Annual Meeting. Debate held on June 10, 2017.

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