American Medical Association CEO to step down

By Bruce Japsen
Posted Nov. 4, 2010 at 11:26 a.m.

The chief executive officer of the American Medical Association will step down when his contract expires next June as the Chicago-based national doctor group embarks on an uncertain political environment for physicians under the health care overhaul law.

Dr. Michael Maves, who is 62 years old, has served as the organization’s top administrator since 2001, working under the direction of the AMA’s board of trustees. Maves said in a statement that the end of his contract presents an opportunity to transition to new leadership for the AMA, the nation’s largest doctor group with more than 200,000 member physicians.

The board will start a start search and expects to have a new CEO in place by the end of Maves’ contract on June 30, 2011.

“Under Dr. Maves’ leadership, the American Medical Association restored its financial stability, weathered the recession and implemented a number of critical initiatives to improve quality of care, increase access to care and establish a fair system of payment for physicians within the Medicare program,” Dr. Ardis Hoven, chair of the AMA’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “As we enter into a new era that is redefining the way health care is delivered, both Dr. Maves and the Board of Trustees share the belief that new top leadership is required to address these challenges and to ensure the rights of patients and physicians are passionately and effectively protected.”

Though Maves was the top executive of the AMA, policy decisions are made by the organization’s board of trustees and House of Delegates. And board and House decisions have been controversial, particularly in the last two years.

In particular, the move by the board and House to endorse the health care overhaul law that was signed into law earlier this year by President Obama has led to an exodus of physician members and criticism from specialty physician societies who opposed the legislation as well as Republicans.

The announcement of Maves’s departure, which the board described as a “mutual” decision between Maves and trustees comes as AMA members are gathering this weekend in San Diego for a policy-setting House of Delegates meeting.

The AMA’s endorsement of the health care reform legislation that passed Congress was seen as critical to winning Democratic votes to pass the bill Obama signed into law in March. The AMA is not expected to encourage the new Congress to repeal the law, despite rhetoric from victorious Republicans who will control the House of Representatives early next year.

The AMA, however, has been struggling to get Congress to approve a permanent fix to a payment formula that is poised to cut physician payments from the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly. Winning Congressional votes for that could prove difficult given the AMA board enraged Republicans with its support of health care reform.

The AMA could find it even more difficult to win Congressional approval for a permanent solution to the coming Medicare payment cuts given Republicans and President Obama pledge to slash federal spending to reduce the deficit.

The AMA this morning announced no changes to its lobbying strategy or changes to the executive team that willcarry out the group’s policy initiatives in Washington.

At its Chicago headquarters,the AMA said Chief Operative Officer Bernard Hengesbaugh “will partner with Dr. Maves to ensure a seamless transition,” the group said in a statement. “No additional executive changes are expected.”

Neither Maves nor AMA board members were available to the Tribune for an interview.

Read more about the topics in this post: , ,

Comments are closed.