EP 13 New L2L

Episode 13 – A National Leader with Tenacity and Compassion


Former AMA President Barbara McAneny is a relentless patient advocate who sees the harm done by the rapacious medical industrial complex. She spells out the toxicity caused by health system consolidation, purchase of physicians’ practices, and financial exploitation of government programs intended to serve the poor. Dr. McAneny, an oncologist, comes by her in-depth knowledge through her AMA role as well as through her own experience battling a large healthcare system in order to save the multi-specialty cancer center she co-founded in 1987. She does not want to see physician-owned practices (the “high quality, lower cost alternative”) succumb to takeover strategies by the healthcare Goliaths. At the AMA she emphasized the need to oppose “the consolidation of the healthcare market as a force that belittles patients and maximizes profit.”

It takes about a nanosecond of talking with Barbara to feel the depth of her passion for patients. I hope you enjoy this jam-packed interview with Dr. McAneny, as she talks about her appreciation for the AMA, the unconscionable “shenanigans” of insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers, the dire state of primary care compensation, and what physician leaders need (spoiler alert: not an MBA).

In this episode discover:

  • Dr. McAneny’s view that the AMA is a tool physicians can use to accomplish their goals
  • Whether Pharmacy Benefits Managers are necessary: “We figured out seven different ways they made money off every prescription.”
  • Provider is a term that obscures credentials and confuses patients—physicians are not providers
  • Learn the language of business—it’s the language of leadership (So get an MBA? No. Night class in accounting? Maybe.)
  • Primary care compensation redesign: two ideas and one big hairy audacious philanthropic goal

In This Episode: 

  • [09:15] Why the pandemic has reinforced the fact that physicians understand what’s needed in healthcare.
  • [17:29] The strong stand taken by the AMA against the Title X gag rule that curtailed reproductive health services especially for poor and marginalized communities.
  • [20:37] AMA filed suit to stop CVS (Caremark) the pharmacy benefit manager from purchasing Aetna, the insurance company.
  • [28:14] Why large systems want to buy up oncology practices…and what’s wrong with it
  • [35:44] Subversion of physician decision making
  • [36:12] The harm done when professional obligations to patients are being subverted to create profits for big healthcare systems. Dr. McAneny also makes it clear she objects to the insurance term provider. “I went to medical school. I’m a physician.”
  • [41:23] Distinguish the education, training, expertise and significance of the physician license
  • [57:13] What can be done to restructure primary care compensation

Key Takeaways:

  • Many healthcare system strategies are primarily profit-oriented, not patient-oriented, and create harm such as astronomical healthcare costs, waste, patient bankruptcy, physician burnout, and moral injury
  • Physicians must recognize that the entire system runs on the physician license and take steps to reclaim autonomy
  • When physicians are given the resources needed, they can create innovative improvements in the health care delivery system, just as they have made great strides in improving care.

Meet Barbara L. McAneny, MD

Dr. Barbara McAneny is nationally recognized as an advocate, an innovator, a business leader, and a doctor’s doctor. She is a board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist from Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is the CEO and co-founder of the multi-specialty, multi-site New Mexico Cancer Center. She also founded the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation, which provides grants to help patients with nonmedical expenses. In 2012 she received a $19.8 million grant to create an oncology medical home, demonstrating that triage pathways would improve outcomes and also lower costs. The Come Home medical home has been recognized and adopted as a recommended model by CMS. Her leadership roles reach well-beyond New Mexico, including nearly two decades with the American Medical Association leading up to her role as the president of the AMA in 2018.

For more about Dr. McAneny and access to resources including the “Come Home” model go to https://www.barbaramcaneny.com/


Barbara’s Website: https://www.barbaramcaneny.com/
Come Home Program: http://www.comehomeprogram.com/
AMA: https://www.ama-assn.org/
Twitter @BarbaraMcAneny
LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/barbara-mcaneny-88636ab
Law firm providing resources on health law: Crowell and Moring, LLP https://www.crowell.com/