Timothy Wang, MD

Timothy Wang, MD

In his presidential address on Monday at DDW®, AGA President Timothy Wang, MD, AGAF, reviewed AGA’s accomplishments and priorities under his leadership over the past year, highlighting several new tools that help AGA members address changes to the GI practice environment.

“On June 3, 1897, our gastroenterology founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia at an AMA [American Medical Association] meeting and perfected plans for the American Gastroenterological Association,” began Dr. Wang, chief of the division of digestive and liver diseases, and the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY.

“The founders group was a mixed lot. Some were already devoting almost all of their time and effort to practice, research and teaching about digestive diseases, while others were general practitioners with some interest in gastroenterology or hepatology. There were, of course, no fellowship programs in GI at the time,” he continued.

Today, AGA is 16,000 members strong and still a mixed lot.

“The strength of AGA lies in our diversity. We represent the full GI community — the full scope, if you will, of the science and practice of gastroenterology. I’m proud to have served as the 111th president of the AGA,” Dr. Wang said.

“It’s a rapidly changing environment in which we practice, and the pace of transformation will continue,” he added. “Many of the changes are driven by government policy changes, but many are not. We’re seeing more and more consolidation of practices into bigger and bigger entities, and more physicians taking employed positions.”

AGA provides leadership and guidance by informing members about new practice models and tools related to physician payment.

“One of AGA’s top policy priorities is to preserve our patients’ access to potentially lifesaving CRC screening,” Dr. Wang said. “It actually saves the health care system a considerable amount of money in the long run when we take preventive steps such as removing adenomas.”

AGA also provides opportunities for GI physicians to learn about and meet the demands of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) through webinars on the AGA website. The webinars provide information on the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and advanced alternative payment models, including practical tips on how to participate in these programs. (For more information about MACRA, see page 10.)

AGA also produces three to four GRADE level (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) clinical practice guidelines per year, as well as shorter Clinical Practice Updates that are published in AGA’s journals. The association also produces educational information about various GI diseases in the online AGA PatientINFO Center.

“We have continued through the years to fight for fair reimbursement for gastroenterologists and hepatologists. Last year, CMS proposed cuts to reimbursement for moderate sedation. After working with many of our members, along with our GI sister societies, we celebrated news recently that there will be no financial impact for gastroenterologists who perform their own moderate sedation,” Dr. Wang said.

“AGA will continue to fight for fair reimbursement for GI services, especially as alternate payment models grow to become a larger part of the system,” he said.