Nearly two decades ago, a handful of individuals interested in advancing the science of venous disease joined together to found the organization now known as the American College of Phlebology (ACP). Little could our founders have imagined how far we would come. In November 2005, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized phlebology as a new medical specialty. In just two short years phlebology has yet again reached another milestone. Last November, the AMA was admitted in to the American Medical Association’s Specialty and Service Society (SSS). What this means is that the ACP is now recognized as the national organization that speaks for vein disease specialists.
The AMA is an organization made up of member physicians throughout the United States. Each year these physicians are asked to select a medical specialty society they would like to represent them and their interests within organized medicine. Much like the United States House of Representatives each AMA member society is given a certain number of seats within its House of Delegates based on the number of AMA members a given society represents. The House of Delegates votes on a variety of issues, policies and positions that affect physicians, their patients and the overall practice of medicine with in the United States. The AMA House of Delegates is made up of representatives from its constituent member specialty societies. Until now, phlebologists were forced to choose some other medical specialty society to represent them. For example, a phlebologist that was initially trained in Internal Medicine would likely designate the American College of Physicians as their representative society. Now phlebologists have made the first step towards full representation in organized medicine and can select the ACP as the society they would like to represent them.
Phlebologists now have a national voice in healthcare policy. This voice will grow as the membership in the College increases. It is incumbent on all vein disease specialists to not only join the ACP but to also join the AMA and designate their primary or secondary specialty as phlebology. The more AMA members that designate themselves as phlebologists, the more clout phlebologists will have in organized medicine.
In a few short years, the American College of Phlebology will become eligible to hold a seat in the AMA House of Delegates. This is the ultimate goal of any organized medical society. A seat in the AMA House of Delegates allows the member society to sponsor bills, resolutions, and amendments on key issues facing medicine today. Additionally, it affords member societies representation on a host of AMA committees including the RUC (RVS update committee) which determines how procedures and their corresponding CPT Codes are valued.
In today’s healthcare environment, there are many outside influences that interfere with our ability to adequately take care of our patients. Without a strong voice within organized medicine, we often feel powerless to deal with the abuses of health insurance companies and Medicare or the seemingly unyielding policies of government agencies like the FDA. By speaking with one voice, we can transform the field of Phlebology within the American healthcare system.
Michael P. Krusch, MD, FACPh
Board of Directors American College of Phlebology
ACP Representative to AMA Specialty & Service Society
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