Medical Societies in Southeast PA Discuss Regional Health Issues with Media

Organized by the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), five county medical societies from Southeast Pennsylvania, along with representatives of the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ), met with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s top health desk editors to discuss trending regional health care issues.

Significant conversation was held on psychiatric care with J. Todd Alderfer, MD, president-elect of Bucks County Medical Society, leading the discussion in which he described the needs of his community, while others shared similar stories from their counties.

Chester County Medical Society president Winslow W. Murdoch, MD, raised awareness of the changing physician environment as more colleagues move from independent practice to an employed status.

Among the issues discussed were a variety of health insurance problems that patients are experiencing.Delaware County Medical Society President Ron Anderson, MD, said patients are changing insurers more often than in the past and this causes problems. He voiced concerns that patient care is often interrupted, particularly for those needing a series of treatments and long-term therapies. Mark Lopatkin, MD, chair of the Montgomery County Medical Society, mentioned similar problems that existing patients were running into due to insurance changes. He specifically mentioned conflicts arising between population health management and individual health management. Many in the meeting also questioned the relationship that pharmaceutical companies have with insurers, and how it was negatively impacting the delivery of care.

Another hot topic was Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Philadelphia County Medical Society, through its president Anthony Padula, MD, and executive director Mark Austerberry, described a recent event on MOC held by the county medical society. The discussion led representatives of all counties chiming in.

The meeting was held at the request of the Philadelphia Inquirer to allow the newspaper an opportunity to learn more about trends physicians are seeing in their day-to-day work. Don Sapatkin and Karl Stark spent more than two hours with the group. Sapatkin is the newspaper’s deputy science and medical editor, while Stark serves as health and science editor.

In addition to those mentioned above, the following county medical society executive directors participated: David McKeighan, Delaware County; Susie Wilson, Chester County; and Toyca Williams, Montgomery County. James Thomas, MD, president of Montgomery County, and Catherine Anderson, a practice administrator from Delaware County, also attended the meeting.

Representing the MSNJ was Larry Downs, Esq., Mishael Azam, Esq., and Liz Thomas. Downs is the MSNJ’s chief executive officer, and Azam runs the organizations legislative affairs department. Thomas handles media relations for the organization.

PAMED was represented by Larry Light, senior vice president of Physician Advocacy and Political Affairs; Michele Gaiski, director of County Medical Society Programs & Services; and Chuck Moran, director of Media Relations and Public Affairs.