Report from the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) House of Delegates 2016
by Dr. Zachary Leonard, President Marquette-Alger County Medical Society
Hello Marquette/Alger Medical Society!
Dr. Dixon and I just returned from the House of Delegates in Dearborn. Below is a short synopsis of the weekend to give you all an update.
Friday evening when we arrived, we went to the U.P. Delegation gathering and met with our colleagues from the Keweenaw and Newberry. The main thing they wanted to discuss was the Leapfrog Health Grading of the Lifepoint Hospitals. I found myself in the uncomfortable position of explaining and defending our hospital. This initial interaction made me reflect on why, as a private physician on the medical staff, do I feel that I need to defend the hospital? Of course, the obvious answer is that that the health of the hospital system is, in fact, essential to the health of our patients and our medical community. I believe that! However, it made me realize that the only time we get together as physicians seems to be at the quarterly staff meetings, where many attendees are disgruntled. We also only address concerns as they relate to the hospital. I believe that as physicians of Marquette and Alger county we need to be more unified. To accomplish that I believe we need a unifying entity, and I believe the medical society can provide that. There are many issues that affect us that we are not addressing purely through our medical staff membership.
Saturday morning, the formal House of Delegates meeting began. Many different committees addressed amendments before a panel. These resolutions were often well thought out and addressed many different issues across all fields of medicine in Michigan. Examples included scope of practice issues affecting primary care and specialties, remedies for primary care shortages, repealing Michigan’s certificate of need, and solutions to the opioid epidemic. I also testified on my own resolution regarding “truth in advertising.” My main focus was the surge in content of advertising that claims medical benefits without scientific evidence as well as the usage of “doctor” without any listing of credentials and often no medical training to support claims. I believe that this is misleading to the general public, but can potentially be dangerous. The resolution was approved unanimously by the house without any amendments or referral, which I am told is quite a victory. So, the “truth in advertising” resolution will now be advocated for at the state level for the protection of physicians and patients. It was amazing to be involved in this truly democratic process!
An awards ceremony started off the Saturday afternoon session. This was great to see acknowledgement for several physicians that sacrifice so much for the benefit of patients as well as other physicians. The afternoon took a more serious note with a presentation by the Task Force on the Flint Water Crisis. This is a terrible tragedy that is ongoing. Flint continues to drink only filtered or bottled water. After listening to this, and the challenges in inner city Detroit from physicians’ standpoints, it makes our problems here in Marquette seem so trivial. What a wonderful place the Upper Peninsula is to practice and to live! Wow, are we lucky!
Sunday morning was filled with testimony regarding the remaining resolutions, including Ways and Means and Medical Care delivery. This update has gone on long enough so I will not go into details. The MSMS democratic process was in full swing for sure. I finished my time there by speaking with MSMS physician leaders and MSMS lobbyists. We discussed our challenges at the local level. We do have several programs at the state level that benefit us as Upper Peninsula physicians. If we do not have strong involvement as a society, these programs can easily go away. I left the meeting realizing our challenges locally are surmountable if we unite. Remain involved in our Marquette-Alger Society. Come to our social gatherings. Come to our Annual Meeting in the Keweenaw. Thank you!
Zachary C. Leonard, MD
President, Marquette-Alger County Medical Society
A word from new president
Zachary C. Leonard, MD
Dear Marquette- Alger Medical Society Members, Associates, and Friends,
I am honored to be your new president! I am thankful for the initial guidance of Dr. Jen Dehlin, our treasurer, and former president Dr. Bryan Dixon. As I am “green” to leadership in our medical society, I have much to learn and look for input from all of you.
For those of you who do not know me, let me introduce myself. I am an Iron Mountain native, happy to have returned to my Yooper roots. My wife Jill and I feel fortunate to be a part of this community where we are raising 3 young boys.
I am an orthopaedic surgeon and partner at Advanced Center for Orthopedics. Although my practice is based in Marquette, I do outreach clinics at four different hospitals where I have the opportunity to interact with patients and physicians across the Upper Peninsula.
My main goal as president is to increase membership and, more importantly, to increase involvement in our medical society. Given the challenges facing the practice of medicine today, I believe this is vital to the health of our medical community and our patients.
Although we are a small medical community, we are the largest and most diverse in the Upper Peninsula. Thus, we must not only provide the best care for our patients but also help our patients find the best care and that means knowing each other better. Sadly, we are disconnected in many ways. I am as guilty as anyone in terms of my limited interaction with other physicians in our community, but I found the holiday gathering for our medical society to be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with many of you. I would like to schedule more gatherings in the future and build a momentum that would result in a more connected, interactive medical community. I believe it is a challenge that would benefit all of us professionally.
Our next gathering will be this spring or early summer. We are planning it in conjunction with the Marquette-Alger Medical Society Alliances. Stay tuned for details on that.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our flagship event, the Keweenaw Medical Conference, August 26th – 28th, at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor. We will again be providing clinical lectures, opportunities to present research, and leadership development activities for students. Last year was a great success, and we look forward to an even greater attendance this year!
Our profession, practices and patients will benefit from the medical society growing and becoming more unified. We are fortunate to have Dr. Craig Coccia actively involved in the executive committee of the Michigan State Medical Society. Dr. Dixon and I will be traveling to the Michigan House of Delegates in Dearborn on April 30th where we will represent you. I have submitted a resolution to House regarding “Truth in Advertising” to help protect patients from misleading advertising by non-physicians who represent themselves as medical doctors. Additionally, there are many other policies and issues that are vital for our profession and patients.
So let’s get involved! Let’s get together! And let us rejuvenate our medical community! If you are not currently a member, I urge you to join. Please contact me with your concerns. I look forward to working together for the betterment of our medical community and our patients.
Zachary C. Leonard, MD
State Medical Society (MSMS) House of Delegates (HOD) Report
Dear Physician Colleagues,
Dr. Legally and I just returned from the annual MSMS HOD in Grand Rapids. We represented you as delegates from the Marquette Alger County Medical Society. We joined members of the UP delegation which included MSMS board members and regional director Dr. Jeff Jacobs to address issues important to our region.
Highlights from the 2015 MSMS HOD include:
- Dr. Rose Ramirez, a Family Medicine Physician and MSU CHM graduate, was installed as MSMS President. We hope Dr. Ramirez will visit the UP later this year to speak with us about the efforts of MSMS to support physicians and to hear your comments, questions and concerns regarding medicine in Michigan.
- Passing a resolution regarding hospital-based no compete clauses for physicians
- Passing resolutions to streamline the process and limit escalating cost for medical education, licensure and board of certification
- A call for timely action by the board to improve access to membership records for county medical societies
- Testimony and resolutions regarding public health issues ranging from e-cigarettes and immunizations to fracking and genetically modified foods
- Defeat of a resolution that would have resulted in the disenfranchisement of the 1,000 member strong medical student section of MSMS
We also had a chance to bring up the recent issue of BCBS denial of payment for care provided to family members. We discussed the issue with MSMS board member and regional director Dr. Jeff Jacobs of Calumet who agreed to bring this issue to the board. This blanket BCBS policy has been spuriously linked to waste, fraud and abuse; when in fact care provided by physicians to family members likely results in more cost effective, attentive and timely care for those BCBS policy holders affected by this policy. In addition, this policy is an affront to our professional autonomy and the free choice of patients in choosing who provides their care. This is a particularly important issue to physicians who practice in rural and remote environments were access to care can be limited and interdependent relationships define the core of professional and personal life. If we can’t take care of those we care about the most, then the very essence of medicine is at risk.
If you are interested in serving as a delegate next year please let us know. Your voice and vote would be greatly appreciated. As a delegate you have a voice and a front row seat in a true democratic process. You can propose, debate and vote on resolutions that set MSMS policy and advocacy efforts. If you can’t serve as a delegate we can always bring issues to the house on your behalf.
Yours in health,