President's Message

James Nicholson, MD
WSA President

President's Message

This month, I would like to report on the ASA Legislative Conference in Washington. The conference was attended by a delegation made of Board of Directors members, residents, students, and most importantly, key contact anesthesiologists from our congressional districts.

As a little background, the ASA sponsors a legislative conference every year in Washington D.C., where key issues affecting anesthesia practice are discussed and are then brought to the hill to discuss with legislators. Through Operation 535, ASA and its component societies try to have at least one anesthesiologist develop a personal relationship with every congressman and senator. If you have a relationship with Congressman Duffy or Stiles, please let us know since we need representatives with them.

I will briefly present the issues discussed at the meetings with congressional offices:

Our most important issue was out of network billing, balance billing, or insufficient insurance coverage depending on your perspective. There are competing bills in the House and Senate. We favored and promoted the solution developed in New York State to have fair arbitration based on an impartial database of fees.

The next major issue we presented was Medicare reimbursement for anesthesia services being paid at approximately 32% of usual rates, while the average of all other specialties is 75%. This is why any expansion of healthcare services linked to Medicare rates is disastrous for anesthesiology.

We also talked about funding through NIH, CDC, and other federal sources for brain health initiatives. Many good lectures were presented at the conference that discussed perihospital brain health in elderly patients. I would encourage everyone to look for these resources on the ASA website. I also hope to provide links on the WSA website.

Additionally, we discussed with some of our congressmen from rural areas the disadvantage Medicare puts on anesthesiologists versus CRNAs through rural pass through billing.

Finally, we asked for forbearance on interest for educational loans during residency.

These are all complex issues that I only briefly present to show you what we do to work on your behalf.

Finally, I just want to mention that we have an excellent fall Annual Meeting set for Milwaukee at Potawatomi from September 7-8. Please don't miss this. Be there.


James Nicholson, MD
President, Wisconsin Society of Anesthesiologists (2017-2019)