In a move that will further consolidate the American Hospital Association, its board of trustees is considering disbanding the organization's 219-member House of Delegates.
If that happens, the AHA's 25-member board of trustees will have the final say on matters ranging from bylaw changes to the election of new board members, including the coveted chairman position.
Disbanding the House of Delegates eliminates duplication, because the delegates also serve on the AHA's nine regional policy boards.
"The House of Delegates process had become redundant," said Richard Wade, AHA senior vice president for communications.
The AHA board is scheduled to vote on the measure at its meeting Nov. 12-13 in Chicago.
As part of the change, Wade said, 25 delegates would be added to the regional boards. If approved, the changes could become effective in January.
Ironically, the House of Delegates also has to vote on the issue, because the change requires a revision in AHA bylaws, said John King, AHA board chairman.
"Since they control the bylaws, only they can approve this," said King, president and chief executive officer of Portland, Ore.-based Legacy Health System.
AHA board member John McMeekin also supports streamlining the AHA.
"I think it makes better use of everybody's time," said McMeekin, president and CEO of Crozer-Keystone Health System, Springfield, Pa. He ran for the board chairman position but lost last month to Carolyn Lewis, a current AHA board member and hospital trustee.
Lewis will take over as chairwoman-elect in January and begin her one-year term as chairwoman in 2000 (Sept. 21, p. 12). She had previously been approved by the AHA nominating committee and the AHA board.
Wade said plans to disband the House of Delegates stemmed from the AHA's strategic planning.
The idea, he said, has been hashed out by the nine regional boards.
The proposal might have been resisted more if the House of Delegates had been involved in more controversial issues, King said. But he said he couldn't recall a time when the House of Delegates overturned a recommendation by the AHA board.
"They have been rather perfunctory approvals," King said.
AHA officials said disbanding the House of Delegates won't stifle member involvement.
For example, board members and chair-elect nominees will still advance through the AHA's nominating committee, and the regional boards will consider bylaw changes before going to the trustees.
The regional policy boards meet three times a year.
Wade said the House of Delegates hadn't convened a formal meeting in three years. It has been voting on issues via mail.