Pro-reform doctors' lobby shakes things up at the top

The American Medical Association announced Thursday that it won't be renewing its top executive's contract when it expires on June 30 next year. Michael Maves, a head and neck surgeon, has been the AMA's executive vice president and CEO since 2001.

The announcement comes as the AMA's House of Delegates prepares to hold a four-day interim meeting starting Saturday to focus on its advocacy and legislative agenda.

The trade association, which represents fewer than 20 percent of doctors but is influential in Congress, has come under intense criticism from some of its members for its support of healthcare reform.

In a statement, Maves said the end of his contract represents "a natural opportunity to transition the leadership of the AMA to a new physician executive."

"Under Dr. Maves’ leadership, the American Medical Association restored its financial stability, weathered the recession and implemented a number of critical initiatives to improve quality of care, increase access to care and establish a fair system of payment for physicians within the Medicare program. We thank him for his many years of distinguished service," Board of Trustees Chairwoman Ardis Hoven said in a statement. "As we enter into a new era that is redefining the way health care is delivered, both Dr. Maves and the Board of Trustees share the belief that new top leadership is required to address these challenges and to ensure the rights of patients and physicians are passionately and effectively protected."

The AMA says it will soon hire an executive search firm to replace Maves. No other executive changes are expected.

More than 100 policy proposals will be considered at the meeting on emerging issues in science, ethics, government, public health and business, according to the AMA, and physicians will vote on proposals to be incorporated into the AMA healthcare agenda.

These include: 

• Stopping Medicare cuts to preserve healthcare for seniors and baby boomers;

• Protecting youth athletes from the health dangers of concussions;

• Increasing healthcare coverage for children of military families;

• Establishing ethical guidelines for the use of social media by physicians; and

• Advocating guiding principles for Accountable Care Organizations, the collaborative healthcare initiatives to coordinate care, enhance quality and curb costs.