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Iowa Governor's Newsletter May 2020

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William J Yost, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

William J Yost, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

 


A Few Words from the Governor

How the world has changed since my last newsletter! The first three cases of COVID-19 were reported in Iowa on March 8, 2020. At the time that I write this, Iowa has now recorded 5,868 cases and 127 deaths, and still climbing. We have scrambled to provide care in unprecedented times, and we have both planned for the surge in COVID-19 cases that we know are coming and simultaneously seen drastic reductions in the volume of patients we see in the office, as well as on inpatient medical services (non-COVID-19, of course), and in elective procedures. Education has been interrupted for medical students, and altered for residents and fellows. The financial toll on our institutions, practices, and on individual physicians has been terrible. Arguably, the emotional toll may be worse.

And yet, there are reasons for hope. I am reminded daily of the courage, perseverance, compassion, and altruism of our profession. I see residents who are shouldering the load every day, eager to be a part of the answer to an awful pandemic. I hear of medical students clamoring to help out as volunteers – the willingness, even eagerness, to serve is what brought them into our profession in the first place, in almost every case. The first wave of the pandemic will pass. The extensive planning that has taken place in virtually every institution, every hospital and every practice will help blunt the impact. The American College of Physicians offers abundant resources to support physicians and patients during this time of crisis. You can find those resources on the ACP web site.

Access the Clinical Information bar at the top and you will see “COVID-19: An ACP Physician's Guide. It is a TERRIFIC resource provided by ACP!

We all hope to see improved testing strategies and more available resources, eventually a vaccine, and the development of herd immunity. We hope to see effective treatments that are proven through clinical trials. However, beyond hope, I know this much: the principles embodied by our profession are demonstrated every day by you, the physicians caring for our community. I am proud to be one of you, and now, more than ever, we are truly all in this together.

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Board of Governors Update

The Board of Governors meeting normally takes place twice yearly, and the spring meeting is usually scheduled consecutive to the Annual Internal Medicine Meeting. After considerable thought, and even consideration of potentially meeting on a virtual platform, the decision was made to cancel this year's meeting.

Ordinarily, among other business, the Board of Governors discusses resolutions brought forward by different groups, and, after careful discussion, eventually votes on those resolutions and refers them on to the Board of Regents for final disposition. There were nineteen resolutions to be discussed at our April meeting. They have all been postponed to the fall meeting. I will be sending those resolutions for your review later this summer. The resolutions are usually related to matters that affect our patients and their health and well-being, or our own as a profession. They are, at times, somewhat controversial and generate considerable debate. I value your input, so I'll invite you to weigh in on them later this summer so that I can speak to the resolutions more effectively on your behalf at our Fall meeting.

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Congratulations!

Regretfully, and as you know, the Annual Meeting of the ACP in Los Angeles was canceled due to COVID-19. We were unable to hold Convocation as a result and recognize the new Fellows and Masters from our Chapter. I thought this would be a good opportunity to recognize our colleagues yet once more in this newsletter.

Joining us as Masters in the Iowa Chapter (we now have 11 Masters out of nearly 600 members) are the following:

Donald Brown, MD, MACP – anyone of us who attended the University of Iowa for our medical education knows Dr. Brown, and remembers him with fondness and the greatest respect. Dr. Brown has been at the University of Iowa in the Cardiovascular Division for nearly his entire career. He is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, has received numerous awards and accolades for his teaching, and has taught countless medical students and residents the art of cardiovascular diagnosis and the interpretation of electrocardiograms, in addition to the subtleties of the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disease, to generations of residents and fellows.

Christine Sinsky, MD, MACP – Dr. Sinsky is a general internist who joined Medical Associates in Dubuque, Iowa, following her residency training, where she practiced for over twenty years. Dr. Sinsky has translated her extraordinary abilities from the bedside to a national stage, and has become one of the leading and most important voices on the subject of burnout and well-being in our profession. Currently the Chair of the ABIM Foundation, she is also the Vice President of Professional Satisfaction at the American Medical Association.

Allow me to also recognize those new Fellows that would have been recognized at Convocation in Los Angeles. While I hope that they will come to the meeting next year and be recognized at Convocation, it seems fitting to take a moment and recognize them here. Our new Fellows are, in alphabetical order:

Dale Bieber, MD, FACP – Coralville, Iowa

Rupesh Kshetri, MBBS, FACP – Iowa City, Iowa

Michael McLoughlin, MD FACP – Clarion, Iowa

Shoba Theivanayagam, MD, FACP – Iowa City, Iowa

Congratulations to all of you for this signal and very notable recognition!

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Fellowship Applications

If you are a Member in good standing, and have been for the past three years, I hope that you will consider applying for Fellowship in the American College of Physicians. The criteria can be found on the ACP website under the Membership tab. The application process is simple. And I would be absolutely delighted to see more Fellows added to our ranks – a mark of professional accomplishment and distinction you will carry with you for the rest of your life!

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance.

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Advocacy Update – an update from Dr. Jon Van Der Veer

Given the coronavirus pandemic, ACP's Annual Leadership Day scheduled for May has been canceled like so many other great events. Fortunately, ACP's Advocacy team remains hard at work and is an active voice in Washington, D.C. Most recently, on April 13th, ACP wrote a letter to Congress with multiple solutions and suggestions. Per ACP, those include the following:

  • Increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that physician practices will receive the funds needed to sustain their business.
  • Increase funding for the Public Health and Social Service Emergency Fund and direct the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that a substantial portion of this funding is prioritized to support physicians and practices with the greatest need.
  • Make improvements to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program and extend the amount of time in which physicians would have to pay back Medicare for advance payments.
  • Increase Medicare and Medicaid payments to physicians.
  • Require all payers to pay for phone calls at the same rate as in-person visits.
  • Create a new program to provide interest-free loans and other mechanisms specifically for physician practices.
  • Provide loan forgiveness and tuition relief for medical students and residents.

Additionally, ACP continues to work on ensuring increases in and access to PPE during these peak periods. Lastly, they wrote President Trump to reconsider opening health insurance marketplaces to allow for special enrollment periods.

Locally, ACP leadership and liaisons have been invited to and participated in Iowa Medical Society's County & Specialty Society COVID-19 Leadership Meetings. Please visit the IMS resource page as it is very tailored to Iowa.

Lastly, as follow up from our last update, Tort Reform efforts are formally on hold for now as the Iowa Legislature suspended its current session until at least April 30th.

Jon Van Der Veer, DO
Chair, Health and Public Policy Committee

 

And with that last word from Dr. Van Der Veer, I'll conclude this newsletter. I hope this finds you well, and that we see this tide of pandemic begin to ebb – and soon!

 

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