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Spring 2008

ABC Organizes the Kick off Meeting of the WAAG

Karin Bierstein, JD, MPH
Vice President for Strategic Planning and Practice Affairs, ABC

Who are some of the people most likely to have solutions to problems such as an unintelligible new payer directive or the spread of rumors among local anesthesiologists that Medicare is going to stop paying for procedures performed in the outpatient setting? Officers and managers of other groups who have already addressed an issue that has just surfaced in their geographic area are often an excellent resource.

Recognizing the value of a local network to foster the exchange of information (but not potentially anticompetitive information such as fees!) among anesthesiology group leaders, ABC brought together twenty physicians and administrators for a half-day meeting in a Washington, D.C. hotel on April 1, 2008. Our model for this venture was the Tristate Anesthesia Administrators Group or “TAAG” that has been convening representatives of practices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and more recently Delaware for a number of years. Stephen Comess, a recent TAAG past president, joined us to explain the achievements and operations of that group.

Our guests included not just ABC clients, but also others who responded to an open invitation posted on the listserv of the Medical Group Management Association’s Anesthesia Administration Assembly (MGMA AAA). The first speaker at the WAAAG meeting was the attorney whose expertise in anesthesia issues is second to none: Judith Jurin Semo, Esq., who practices in the Washington area—and across the country. Ms. Semo provided a fresh perspective on “When the Hospital No Longer Wants to Pay: Contract Negotiations.” If you feel that your hospital is demanding far more than it ever did in the past, you are not alone.

A second attorney, Catherine D. Bertram, Esq. (the WAAAG meeting took place in Washington, D.C., where some say that every 20th person on the street is a lawyer) spoke next. Ms. Bertram is a trial lawyer and former hospital risk management counsel who demonstrated many of the skills with which she keeps the attention of juries as she explained what anesthesiologists should do to make sure that they never meet her across the table at a deposition, let alone in the courtroom. Note: participants raised the question whether anesthesiologists should personally discuss the risks of anesthesia and personally obtain the patient’s informed consent. This is an issue that continues to arouse debate in the specialty; Ms. Bertram, however, was as unequivocal as every other lawyer you have heard on the vulnerability of the anesthesiologist who delegates this function to a non-physician.

We were fortunate enough to have a third speaker, Richard Rauh, Executive Director of Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants, P.A. and Southeast Pain Management, PLLC in Charlotte, NC. Mr. Rauh described the many components of the highly successful pain practice he has helped his group build.

ABC’s major objective was met when Denise A. Lascar, RN, MBA, MHA, President of the Center for Ambulatory Surgery, Inc. in Washington, DC, an ABC client and an active member of the AAA, volunteered to become the first president of the WAAAG and to organize its second meeting. It was most satisfying to the ABC staff who organized the kickoff to see the enthusiasm of the participants for an ongoing local best-practices forum.

Readers who would like to make sure that they are on the WAAAG mailing list should send their contact information via email to

Readers in “the other Washington” who would like to attend a similar event should note that ABC and AAI1 are planning to convene the first meeting of the SWAAG (State of Washington Anesthesia Administrators Group) in Seattle on June 4, 2008. If you are interested in attending, please send an email, including your contact information, to mailto:

ABC CEO Tony Mira is a strong believer in the value to our clients, and to others, of regional networking. Plans are in the works for us to help launch local interest groups in Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina. We encourage potential speakers and other participants to contact us.

1 Anesthesia Business Consultants, LLC (ABC) and Anesthesiologists Associated, Inc. (AAI) announced January 23rd the completion of a business combination.