Professional News
Former APA Assembly Speaker Runs for AMA President-Elect
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 11 page 3-3

It's been 72 years since a psychiatrist was president of the AMA. But the dry spell stands a very good chance of ending this month. Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., speaker of the AMA House of Delegates and a past speaker of the APA Assembly, is running unopposed for president-elect of the AMA and, barring unforeseen and unlikely circumstances, will be elected at this month's meeting of the House of Delegates.

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Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., a longtime leader at the AMA, has helped get action on numerous issues important to psychiatry.

"It's a reflection of the respect that our profession has attained within the AMA, so I will be honored to be the second psychiatrist to be president," Lazarus told Psychiatric News.

The first psychiatrist was Rock Slyester, M.D., who was installed as the 93rd president of the AMA on May 16, 1939. At that time, Sleyster was medical director of the Milwaukee Sanitarium in Wisconsin, a post he held from 1919 until his death in 1942.

Lazarus brings to his candidacy a remarkable record of leadership in organized medicine. A private-practice psychiatrist in Denver, he was reelected speaker of the AMA House of Delegates in June 2010, after having served as vice speaker from 2003 to 2007. He is a past president of the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Psychiatric Society, and the Arapahoe County Medical Society.

He serves as chair of the AMA Board of Trustees (BOT) Compensation Committee and as a member of the AMA-BOT Executive and Finance committees. Representing the AMA on the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured and the Ride for World Health, he has been one of the AMA's chief spokespersons on the uninsured.

That interest will continue. "I have spent a lot of time on the board and as speaker of the House representing the AMA in discussions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Lazarus said. "I want to make sure that gets implemented in a good way while fixing the parts of the act that we have had difficulty with."

Lazarus said the "difficult" parts, specifically, are these:

  • The failure to reform the Medicare physician payment formula.

  • The lack of meaningful malpractice reform.

  • The Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board.

  • The latter is a panel that would set payment policies and, Lazarus said, potentially mandate payment cuts for physicians. "Physicians are already subject to an expenditure target and other potential payment reductions as the result of the Medicare physician payment formula," he told Psychiatric News. "We don't need another expenditure target."

    In addition to health system, Medicare payment, and liability reform, other items on the AMA agenda will be patient-safety initiatives, evidence-based medicine and quality metrics, promotion of healthy lifestyles and preventive care, and increasing AMA membership.

    Lazarus said he believes that AMA membership is a bargain for any physician. "I think if anyone takes a look at the sweep of benefits that the AMA provides in terms of advocacy, assistance to physicians in transitioning to electronic health records, and development of clinically meaningful quality measures, the value far outstrips the $425 dues."

    And he offered a personal appeal to APA members. "I would be honored if they would also join the AMA, in recognition of the fact that one of their longstanding fellow members will be elected president." 3_1.inline-graphic-1.gif

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    Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., a longtime leader at the AMA, has helped get action on numerous issues important to psychiatry.

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