Despite speculation that the retirement of American Medical Association Executive Vice President James S. Todd, M.D., was requested rather than given freely, association members and trustees say Todd retains the full support of the organization.
"This was not a negotiated removal. This is one of those circumstances where what you see is what you get," said Richard F. Corlin, M.D., vice speaker of the AMA House of Delegates.
Many have speculated that Todd was in trouble because several positions taken by AMA leadership, including Associations
supporting an employer mandate and supporting physician self-referral bans, were strongly opposed by much of the membership and were later overturned by the House of Delegates.
Todd's retirement was announced April 18. He will leave the association in June 1996 when his contract runs out.
"He wants to leave when people wanted him to stay, rather than stay when people want him to leave," Corlin said. "The board accepted his letter with a great sense of appreciation for everything he's done. He retains the full support of the board until he leaves."
Carl F. Strauss, an internist and alternate delegate from Kansas City, Mo., commented: "I think for a man who heads an organization this large, he is remarkably well thought of. He is looked on as very articulate, expressing the view of most physicians. I think he makes a good representation.
"When you consider who you're dealing with-have you heard of herding cats?-I hear precious few discontents. It would come as a complete surprise to me" to learn that Todd was forced out, Strauss added.
Todd, in an interview with MODERN HEALTHCARE, said: "The best time to make a transition is when things are quiet and there is no turmoil in the organization." He said he intends to be active in the search process, advising on strengths and liabilities of candidates who rise to the top.
"My advice for my successor is: Be prepared to realize it is an all-consuming job with a great deal of insecurity in it."
No sooner was Todd's retirement announced than people began to wonder who might succeed him.
On direction of Chairman P. John Seward, a family practitioner from Rockford, Ill., a five-member search committee has been formed. On it are Yank D. Coble Jr., an endocrinologist from Jacksonville, Fla.; Corlin, a gastroenterologist from Santa Monica, Calif.; Nancy W. Dickey, a family physician from Richmond, Texas, and vice chairwoman of the board of trustees; Robert E. McAfee, a general surgeon from Portland, Maine, and president of the AMA; and Frank B. Walker, a pathologist from Detroit.
An AMA vice president has been assigned to provide staff support. In June the search committee will report its projected schedule to the board of trustees.
It is not a requirement that the AMA's top executive be a physician.
Corlin noted that all five members of the search committee "were by definition ineligible. Nobody declined to be on the committee for that reason."
Lonnie R. Bristow, an internist from San Pablo, Calif., and the AMA's president-elect, said, "There will probably be some board members interested, but I have not heard of any yet."