Our first meeting to organize a state chapter of the AAPS began with no more than a handful of people. Most of those gathered in that small room had never heard of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. At least two of us had been long-time members of this tremendous organization, myself and Dr. Curtis Caine. Dr. Caine had been an AAPS member since the 1940s and was a member of the AAPS Board of Directors.
The physician who had arranged the meeting was a new member of the organization; so as a member for the past 20 years, I was asked to speak about the organization’s history and accomplishments. I told the physicians gathered there I had never been associated with a group of people more dedicated to virtuous principles than were the members of the AAPS. From the very beginning, the AAPS has fought for the preservation of the patient-doctor relationship. Over the years, the AAPS has never wavered or shied away from any battle, large or small. The AAPS is dedicated to individual liberty, the free enterprise system, limited government, and the rule of law.
At this point, the first question asked was, “Is this just another organization that complains and tells us how bad things are, or do they actually do something about the problems?” I told them what most impressed me about the AAPS and its leadership is that they not only educate, but they are involved in solution making and fighting the important battles. I pointed out to them it was the AAPS that filed the lawsuit that forced Hillary Clinton and her socialist minions to hand over the secret files of the infamous Clinton Health Care Task Force, and not the AMA or any other group claiming to represent America’s physicians and their patients.
After this introduction, we had more than half of those present join. Soon, word of our efforts began to spread, and our second meeting filled the room! Again, we repeated the message. But this time, we told them our chief goal would be to implement Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) for Mississippi. This meeting became an educational meeting about the dangers of managed care and the advantages of MSAs and we had their attention.
Next, I knew we needed to demonstrate to our new members we were an action group that could effect positive results. For our third meeting, we invited the Governor’s Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Insurance Committee. They both addressed the group and let us know the Governor was supportive, and that Mississippi was one of six states having MSA enabling legislation.
Following this meeting, I invited an executive from the Golden Rule Insurance Company to address the group. He did a splendid job. Everyone in attendance was convinced of the value of MSAs. By now, word about our organization and its activities was spreading across the various hospital staffs. Membership continued to grow.
To consolidate our efforts and to encourage potential members, we put together a star-studded MSA program in December, 1995. Our guest speakers included a popular freshman congressman, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, the Chairman of the Insurance Committee, Mr. Patrick Rooney, Chairman of the Golden Rule Insurance Company, and a CPA who works directly with MSA insured businesses. We advertised the meeting in the local paper, on local news stations, and on talk radio. The program was an overwhelming success!
What all of this has accomplished is to demonstrate to the physicians in our state that we are getting things done. We work with the state medical association and other ancillary medical societies to increase our strength. The state affiliate of the National Federation of Independent Business has been a source of tremendous help to us.
My primary recommendation to physicians in other states is to select a small group of physicians who are willing to work hard and make important contacts among business leaders, politicians, and media personalities. Stay in constant contact, and meet frequently. Work out carefully constructed plans of actions and concentrate on no more than one or two areas, such as tort reform or MSAs.
When we first began this endeavor, several of our state board members agonized over how to recruit new members. I told them repeatedly, if you show physicians you are an effective organization that can accomplish major goals, you will automatically attract members. They will come to you. In Mississippi, this has proven to be true.
Have we been successful? I think so. Recently, in his “State of the State” address, the Governor of Mississippi publicly endorsed medical savings accounts, and encouraged the inclusion of state employees in the plan!
Russell L. Blaylock, MD, is a neurological surgeon in Jackson, Mississippi. He is currently serving as President, Mississippi State Chapter of the AAPS. His address is 9 Lakeland Circle, Jackson, MS 39216.
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1996;1(1):30-31. Copyright©1996 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)