First AMA President’s Letter:

An RF past and a year ahead

September 29, 2016

Dr. Padraic E. Carr, AMA President

Dear Member:

This is my first opportunity to write to you since becoming president of the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) on Saturday, September 24, during the fall Representative Forum (RF) and annual general meeting. It is truly an honor to serve as your president, and I look forward to working for you in 2016-17.

Another successful RF

The fall RF proved to be an excellent meeting. As usual, delegates addressed complicated topics, consulted together, and emerged with consensus in the form of motions to help guide the Board of Directors.

Topics which were addressed included:

The tentative Amending Agreement

As you know, the package of proposed amendments to the 2011-18 AMA Agreement is currently out for a ratification vote. Although the outcome of the vote is yet to be determined, the board felt that due diligence requires us to be ready to move quickly if ratification occurs. Accordingly, the RF received a presentation on possible approaches to implementation for some of the larger initiatives within the tentative amendments.

Nominating Committee report

Chair Dr. Richard G.R. Johnston updated the RF and the annual general meeting regarding work of the Nominating Committee. This is a regular event, but this year was notable for announcing a new process to identify candidates for the Board of Directors. The objective is to encourage a larger number of RF delegates to run for board positions – whether as a nominee from the committee or from the floor of the RF. Although there is always strong interest in running for board elections, we still want to ensure broad membership and perspectives.

Governance Review Group (GRG) report

The GRG was formed by the RF in Fall 2015 and since then has done a great deal of detailed work to explore how the AMA might enhance our governance structures to reflect the needs of members. The RF received information about member research that GRG had conducted, and a list of recommendations to consider for future improvements.

Relationship between Alberta Health (AH) and AMA

The RF was pleased to host the Honorable Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health, who addressed the annual general meeting and answered questions from delegates. Deputy Minister of Health Carl Amrhein, PhD, joined the RF for a session about how physicians and government can seek opportunities for collaboration, shared stewardship, and shared accountability.

Fee schedule modernization and relativity

The RF received an update on the ongoing work to advance fee relativity by the AMA-AH Physician Compensation Committee and the internal AMA Compensation Committee.

Access to health care

The RF discussed challenges for improving access to physician services and innovative options such as clinical telehealth. Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services, also graciously agreed to present to members during this session.

Chronic pain

A panel led by the Section of Chronic Pain discussed issues, particularly the challenge of maintaining access to opioids for those patients who benefit from that therapy, while limiting access to those who would abuse it.

What comes next?

Since the RF, I have given a number of media interviews, most centering on what lies ahead for the AMA in the coming year.

My comments have reflected that much will be determined by the outcome of the ratification vote that is currently underway. If the tentative Amending Agreement is ratified, there are many new and significant opportunities that will impact the association. Like you, I await the will of the membership on this matter, and will have more to say when we know the results.

Please be aware that voting closes on Thursday, October 13 at 4:30 p.m. Votes will be counted October 14. We will be sending you a number of reminder emails between now and then to encourage you to visit the voting website, and to review the information contained therein before you cast your vote.

All the information we have provided so far (as well as the Vote Now button when you are ready) can be found at www.albertadoctors.org/amendments2016 (you must sign in with your member number and password). According to feedback, some members feel we have provided too much detail, while others say we have not provided enough. Every member is different, of course, but we have tried to provide options for a range of preferences. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need for an informed vote. If you can’t find answers to your questions, please just let us know.

Member input is key to going forward, and I am always respectful of our members’ opinions. The greater wisdom of the whole is achieved through individual participation. I look forward to the guidance and insight your correspondence will provide. Please email president@albertadoctors.org or leave a comment below.

Yours truly,

Padraic E. Carr, BMedSc, MD, FRCPC, DABPN
President

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