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Six Association Members Inducted into Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame for 2018

Six Association Members Inducted into Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame for 2018

MONTGOMERY — This year the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame inducted 12 new members into the Class of 2018, six of which are currently or were previous members of the Medical Association. We are very proud of our physicians, and we would like to extend our best wishes to these medical pioneers for their amazing contributions to the field of medicine in Alabama. The Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame was founded in 1997 with the purpose of recognizing those persons, living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions to, or rendered exemplary service for health care in the State of Alabama.

Gerhard A. W. Boehm, M.D., FACS

Dr. Gerhard Boehm’s distinguished career spans more than 47 years as a general surgeon, including the performance of more than 7,000 breast surgeries primarily for cancer patients. His practice continues today. Through his vision and selflessness, he was instrumental in the development of a multidisciplinary Tumor Conference at Mobile Infirmary to advance cancer collaboration and treatment options. His work and leadership led to Mobile Infirmary’s achieving accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Boehm served as an adjunct professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama School of Medicine. Active in many professional areas, he served as president of the Alabama Medical Alumni Association, and in 2017 he received its Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Boehm also served as Alabama chapter president of the American College of Surgeons.

Boyde J. “Jerry” Harrison, M.D.

Dr. Jerry Harrison is a family physician from Haleyville, Ala., having served the community for more than 35 years. He received his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Continuing his interest in biochemical research, he has participated in more than 120 clinical research trials, including opioid dependence research. In 2008, Dr. Harrison helped develop a board-sponsored and approved prescribing course, which he has presented to more than 7,000 Alabama prescribers. The course was awarded the Administrators in Medicine National Award for Excellence in 2015. He has served as the president and chairman of three statewide medical associations: the Alabama Medical Directors Association, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. He has also served as chairman of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Harrison was the recipient of the Garber Galbraith Medical Political Award from the UAB Medical School Alumni Association. He is a private pilot, a talented musician, and a tireless advocate for rural physicians in Alabama.

William Lawrence Hawley, M.D.*

A native of Belle Ellen, Ala., Dr. Hawley grew up in Bessemer. He excelled as a student at the University of Alabama and graduated from Harvard Medical School. After Pearl Harbor he joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps and served in both the European and Pacific theaters, working in epidemiology and environmental medicine. For his service, Dr. Hawley was awarded the Order of the British Empire for meritorious military service by King George VI. Dr. Hawley was a kind, caring physician who was a pioneer in the clinical use of radioisotopes. He was the first to use radioisotopes for cancer treatment in Birmingham, Alabama. He established an isotope lab at the Birmingham Veterans Hospital and worked with skilled physicians providing radioisotope therapy to patients with breast cancer, ovarian cancer and thyroid disease. Dr. Hawley influenced and guided many young men and women and was widely known as a role model for fellow physicians.

Martin Lester, M.D.

Dr. F. Martin Lester is a pioneer in cardiovascular care and beloved by thousands of patients. Still practicing medicine full time, it is estimated that Dr. Lester has read more than 250,000 EKGs and seen almost 200,000 patients, many of which are fourth and even fifth generation. Considered Mobile’s “Dean of Internal Medicine” he became founder and clinical director of the Operation Bounce Back cardiac rehabilitation program, the first in Alabama and now one of the top 10 programs in the U.S. Dr. Lester advanced medical care while retaining the Hippocratic values and principles of his calling. An Auburn graduate, he studied at the Medical College of Alabama and completed his training under the tutelage of Dr. Tinsley Harrison. An avid sportsman, Dr. Lester is a member of the Auburn Football Letterman’s Club and one of the trustees that established Mobile Little League Football. He has served as team doctor for the Senior Bowl and the Alabama-Mississippi All Star Game.

Richard O. Russell Jr., M.D.*

For more than 55 years on local, state and national levels, Dr. Richard Russell was considered a preeminent leader in the field of cardiology. He received rigorous academic training at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, then pursued post-doctoral training at Harvard University and the Medical College of Alabama. After service as an Army Captain, he returned in 1962 to the Medical College of Alabama (now UAB). Over the next 55 years he worked as UAB Professor of Medicine and as a physician at Cardiovascular Associates of North Alabama. At UAB Dr. Russell directed the first Myocardial Infarction Research Unit and co-authored the first comprehensive textbook on coronary artery disease. Dr. Russell was a nationally recognized leader of the Alabama and American Colleges of Cardiology. His other great legacy was with the Boy Scouts of America where he received the awards of Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope and was a Distinguished Eagle Scout.

William R. Willard, M.D.*

Born in Seattle, Wash., Dr. William Willard received his medical degree from Yale University in 1934. Dr. Willard built a distinguished record of service as founding dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Ky., where he established the first department of Behavioral Sciences and Community Medicine. In 1966, Dr. Willard chaired the American Medical Association’s committee on family practice. Their “Willard Report” is credited with recommending and establishing Family Medicine as the 20th medical specialty in the United States. In 1972, University of Alabama President David Mathews coaxed Dr. Willard out of his Kentucky retirement to move to Tuscaloosa and develop the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences. Today’s family medicine in Alabama is largely a product of the school Dr. Willard founded. One in eight family physicians in Alabama has trained at the Family Medicine residency program at CCHS. The program has provided more than 360 family practice physicians to the state with 50 percent remaining in Alabama.


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The Medical Association Supports Replacement of ACA with Workable Health Care System

The Medical Association Supports Replacement of ACA with Workable Health Care System

The Medical Association released its 2017 Legislative Agendas earlier this year, which were developed with guidance from the House of Delegates and great contribution from our physician members who participated in the 2017 Legislative Agenda Survey. The Medical Association has continued to express support for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its replacement with an adequate system to protect not only physicians but their patients as well.

The U.S. Senate is engaged in deliberations on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. So far these debates have one thing in common – they fail to meet the basic requirements of a solid health care plan, which does not further damage an already weakened Medicaid program or make it more difficult for low and moderate-income Americans to obtain affordable health insurance.

As from the beginning, Medical Association continues to support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replacement with a system that:

  • Includes meaningful tort reforms that maintain existing state protections
  • Preserves employer-based health insurance
  • Protects coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions
  • Protects coverage for dependents under age 26
  • With proper oversight, allows the sale of health insurance across state lines
  • Allows for deducting individual health insurance expenses on tax returns
  • Increases allowed contributions to health savings accounts
  • Ensures access for vulnerable populations
  • Ensures universal, catastrophic coverage
  • Does not increase uncompensated care
  • Does not require adherence with insurance requirements until insurance reimbursement begins
  • Reduces administrative and regulatory burdens

The disproportionate funding model dictated by the ACA has left most states, including Alabama, sorely underfunded. Medicaid is a critical component of our health care system, covering the young and elderly. Medicaid covers more than half of Alabama births and 47 percent of our children, as well as 60 percent of Alabama’s nursing home residents. Without full funding, the Medicaid program will collapse, leaving these individuals without coverage. While uncompensated care is delivered every day in all 67 counties of this state, without Medicaid, charity care needs could skyrocket, crippling the health care delivery system and potentially placing the burden on those with private health insurance through higher premiums and co-pays.

Now’s the time to fix our broken health care system to ensure access to care for our citizens and the ability for physicians to practice medicine without overwhelming federal burdens guiding the way. The Medical Association continues to work with our Congressional Delegation during these negotiations and urges them to work together toward the passage of a viable health care solution for our residents.

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New American Health Care Act Comes Under Fire

New American Health Care Act Comes Under Fire

Earlier this week, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released legislation as part of the House Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Although the legislation cleared its first hurdle with a lengthy, contentious markup session that began Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the American Health Care Act. The House Energy and Commerce Committee continued debating the legislation well into Thursday. Many health care organizations are speaking out against the legislation.

In brief, the 123-page legislation proposes to:

  • Eliminate the Obamacare taxes on job creators, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and health care providers.
  • Eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties.
  • Prohibit health insurers from denying coverage or charging more to patients based on pre-existing conditions.
  • Help young adults access health insurance and stabilize the marketplace by allowing dependents to continue staying on their parents’ plan until they are 26.
  • Establish a Patient and State Stability Fund, which provides states with $100 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations and help low-income Americans afford health care.
  • Modernize and strengthen Medicaid by transitioning to a “per capita allotment” so states can better serve the patients most in need.
  • Empower individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
  • Help Americans access affordable, quality health care by providing a monthly tax credit for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program.

Although Democrats and Republicans are beginning to speak against the bill, perhaps most critical of the legislation has been the American Medical Association, which issued a letter to congressional leaders stating that it cannot support the bill.

“While we agree that there are problems with the ACA that must be addressed, we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations,” it said.

AMA President Dr. Andrew Gurman introduced the letter on the AMA’s website by stating: “We all know that our health system is highly complex, but our core commitment to the patients most in need should be straightforward. As the AMA has previously stated, members of Congress must keep top of mind the potentially life-altering impact their policy decisions will have.”

Similarly, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospital Association have expressed strong opposition to the proposed American Health Care Act citing fundamental changes in Medicare and Medicaid, which the groups argue could limit access to care while “in no way improving care.”

“It appears that the effort to restructure the Medicaid program will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations,” wrote Richard Pollack, CEO and president of the American Hospital Association, in his letter to members of Congress.

The legislation does not yet have a score from the Congressional Budget Office, which could provide an estimate of the bill’s cost and impact on coverage levels. However, White House representatives have indicated a score will soon be released.

Other medical groups are expressing concern about the speed at which the bill appears to be moving.

“We are concerned that by rushing to a mark-up … in the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, there will be insufficient time to obtain non-partisan estimates of this legislation’s impact by the Congressional Budget Office, or for medical organizations like ours and other key stakeholders in the health care community to offer substantive input on the bill,” the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: and the American Osteopathic Association said in a joint statement.

Click here for a look at what the American Health Care Act would keep, change and/or repeal versus the ACA.

The Medical Association is closely monitoring the legislation.

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