South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday October 15, 2019
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August 2019 - Volume 16 - Issue 2

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Dr. Ronald Giffler Preparing for FMA Presidency

Ronald F. Giffler, M.D., understands how it works – "it" being the progression from joining an organization to becoming its president. Dr. Giffler, who also has a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law; an M.B.A. from NOVA University; and is a retired U.S. Army Medical Corps Colonel, said he joined the Florida Medical Association because he wanted to get involved. Now president-elect, he will be installed as president in August. He said he is looking forward to it, but added, "I didn't initially have any desire to become president. But you spend more time and get more involved and eventually you get into a leadership position, and then the topic comes up – do you want to progress to be president?"

Fortunately for the FMA, Dr. Giffler's answer was yes, and he has the experience and background to enable him to accomplish quite a bit during his one-year term. He has been a member of the Florida Medical Association for 37 years, and during that time has served as treasurer, vice president, and president-elect, as well as on numerous committees and boards. In addition, he served in similar capacities for the Broward County Medical Association, beginning in the late 1990s.
 
Dr. Giffler said the FMA is involved in three main activities: education, charitable works, and political advocacy. Regarding the latter, he commented that when he becomes president, he has a list of legislative priorities that deal with a variety of items relating to health insurance. The first involves prior authorization. "We feel it is too much of a burden to have to get so many things approved, when a doctor should be able to know what's best for the patient and have it ordered. The other thing is where physicians want to prescribe a drug, but insurance companies want you to try a different drug first because it's cheaper. We don't believe the insurance companies should be dictating what medications the patients should take based on their formulary. We want the physicians to be able to practice independently using their own professional abilities."
 
He said his responsibilities as president will also include quite a bit of traveling throughout the state on behalf of the Florida Medical Association to attend different events hosted by county medical associations and other entities.
 
Along with this, Dr. Giffler wants to build up the association's Foundation for Healthy Floridians to make it better able to provide more funds for education, health care, indigent programs, physician wellness programs, hurricane relief, and the like. "The mission of the Florida Medical Association is to help physicians practice medicine. We have more than 25,000 members, the largest medical organization in the state by far, but we need more members. Membership is probably the most important thing for any organization. Not every doctor has joined and we want to make membership a priority."
 
He asserted that Americans generally are no longer joiners, and also said there are numerous competing organizations, as well as time and money limitations. Nonetheless, he emphasized that the Florida Medical Association is the only and the largest medical society in the state that represents all of the physicians. "It's very important for advocacy, and the more members we have, the better it is to get our message heard. It's important, because every physician has an interest in the things we're fighting for.
 
"When we get legislation or some regulation passed, it's not just for our members, it's for all doctors. Those who don't pay in are really getting something for nothing. They should contribute, too."
 
He said the burdens on physicians' practices also affect patients. In the matter of prior authorization and having to first try a less expensive drug, he said you have to document that you tried it and it didn't help the patient, which means the patient has to endure additional suffering before you're permitted to prescribe a more effective drug. "That hurts our ability to practice because it also affects the patients. And almost every doctor eventually will be a patient, so you can't totally distinguish whether an issue is for a doctor or a patient."
 
In addition to his responsibilities for the FMA, Dr. Giffler will maintain his current position as CEO and president of FirstPath, which provides state-of-the-art pathology and laboratory services for physicians and patients of South Florida. He is also regional medical director of laboratory services for Broward Health – with four hospitals and multiple clinics, one of the largest public hospital systems in the country. He admits the added responsibilities are a challenge. "Many of the meetings take place on weekends, but it does take away a lot of your leisure time."
 
Dr. Giffler has lined up quite an agenda for when he steps in as president of the Florida Medical Association: Legislative priorities. Building the Foundation. Increasing membership. "I think that's enough for one year," he declared.

For more information on the Florida Medical Association, call (800) 762-0233 or visit www.flmedical.org.

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