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Of AMA meetings, hashtags and Medicare premium supports

A friendly reminder to those tweeting from the American Medical Association meeting: Unless you like reading notes about Taylor Swift with your Medicare premium support diatribes, the code #AMA is useless.

The preferred hashtag appears to be #AMAmtg.

In fact, very little that is found while searching with #AMA will get you anything about the nation's oldest and largest physician organization. But you will find comments about the American Music Awards, American Motorcycle Association, American Freestyle Motocross Association, American Marketing Association and a lot of stuff in Spanish that I can't figure out.

But, speaking about premium support, I e-mailed former Medical Group Management Association President and CEO Dr. William Jessee for his take on the debate over whether the AMA should endorse transitioning Medicare into such a system.Jesse is now a senior vice president and senior adviser with Minneapolis-based consultants Integrated Healthcare Strategies. He noted that this will this be the first AMA annual meeting he has missed since 1986, and he also has let his membership lapse "since the consulting work and teaching that I am doing in my 'post-MGMA' career makes it a bit irrelevant."

That said, Jessee—who made six appearances on the Modern Healthcare/Modern Physician annual ranking of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives—still had an opinion to offer.

"Frankly, the idea of giving private, for-profit insurance companies a bigger role in Medicare makes me very nervous," Jessee said in an e-mail. "Medicare Advantage plans are more expensive (to the federal government) than traditional Medicare. In fact, one of the ways that the (Affordable Care Act) is funded is by gradually reducing the approximately 15% differential between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare over a period of several years."

He added that, according to MGMA surveys, Medicare is popular with practice managers despite its "not very attractive" payment rates because it's a prompt payer and because of its transparency. Its fees get published in the Federal Register.

It's hard to predict how the AMA premium-support debate will turn out, but one thing I can boldly predict is that Dr. Ardis Hoven will be named president-elect of the organization and will take over next year as the third woman to hold the post.

Unlike 2010, when three candidates vied for the post, but like last year when Dr. Jeremy Lazarus was the only candidate on the ballot, Hoven is running unopposed.

An internist and infectious-disease specialist from Lexington, Ky., Hoven is the immediate past chair of the AMA trustees board and has been a board member since 2005. As chairwoman, she showed grace under fire while being grilled on the subject of defensive medicine by Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on malpractice reform.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
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