Economics of health care drive 2014 AAD election

In preparation for the upcoming 2014 AAD election, the Academy interviewed Victor J. Marks, MD, a former AAD board member, about why members should be invested in the upcoming election.

AAD: Why is it important for the membership to vote in the 2014 AAD election?

Dr. Marks: The Academy is a member organization. The main mechanism by which a member can influence the organization is through the leaders he or she elects. Usually, members don’t have a direct say in the development or execution of initiatives — the leaders do that. So you should elect leaders who support your views.

When issues come up, the Academy doesn’t send ballots to members to ask them to vote. Rather, the issues go directly to the Academy’s Board of Directors and the board sets policy and direction. In other words, the main way members influence establishment of policy and its implementation is by electing directors and officers.

It’s just like the national government. The country is run by the president, Congress and Supreme Court. You try to elect those who most closely mirror your ideas and aspirations and leave it to them to implement policy.

The question isn’t whether health care spending will be ratcheted down, but how the changes in the economics of health care will affect the specialty.

AAD: Yet, only about one-third of the membership votes in the annual election.

Dr. Marks: A 30 percent voter turnout is dismal, especially when the result of the election affects your livelihood. Obviously, we want everyone to vote, but 50 percent would be great.

Call for Nominations: The AAD's Nominating Committee is accepting nominees for the 2014 Academy Election for Officers, Directors of the Board of Directors, and Nominating Committee Member Representatives (West Region). The current Administrative Regulation on Nomination and Election Procedure requires that nominees submit all the required materials to the Nominating Committee no later than Nov. 1, 2013 for the election that will take place in spring 2014. Learn more about how to submit your nomination(s) and letters of support, or email

AAD: What will be the biggest issues facing leadership in the coming year?

Dr. Marks: The issue that will have the greatest effect on the specialty is the economics of health care. We’re spending more as a country on health care than we can afford. So it’s got everyone's attention — from the president to average citizens. 

The question isn’t whether health care spending will be ratcheted down, but how the changes in the economics of health care will affect the specialty. Health care expenditures are nearly 18 percent of the gross domestic product — far above what most other countries spend. So, even if spending isn’t cut dramatically, at the very least, the rate of increase will be reduced.

As we all know, there has been much discussion at the national level about how to control Medicare spending. We are a small specialty and we want to have the most influence we can around this issue. And that’s why it’s so important that we select leaders with the ability to influence decision makers.

AAD: What were some of the major accomplishments made by the AAD board during your term?

Dr. Marks: We developed a strong presence in the national legislative arena. We helped create a strong staff in our Washington, D.C., office that has been very successful in influencing the specialty’s political direction, as well as keeping members informed about issues and the Academy’s efforts to affect legislation.

We also helped keep the specialty as united as possible despite fragmentation through subspecialization. Our objective was to unite the subspecialties under the umbrella of the AAD and AADA to create a stronger political voice. Our theme was, “We are all one.”

Also, our national marketing and ad campaigns to brand the specialty were bearing fruit and continue to be enhanced. We recognized the need to take the specialty directly to the public to enhance our image. We continue to recognize that need.

Finally, under the direction of Bill James, we strengthened our volunteer efforts, providing medical care for people in need, and we created a lot of goodwill for the specialty.

AAD: The Academy’s call for nominations for the 2014 election closes on Nov. 1. Slated candidates will be announced Feb. 26, 2014, and the election opens March 22. Any final thoughts as we head into election season?

Dr. Marks: Most of the issues that come before the Academy aren’t voted on by members. Therefore, the only way for members to influence the direction of the specialty is by selecting leaders who represent their views.

Informed voters form the backbone of the Academy, so take the time to read up on the issues facing our specialty, study the candidate positions, and vote for those candidates who share your views and aspirations for the specialty.

You know the old saying, "If you don’t vote, then you don’t have a right to complain." Well, that applies here. It is the one opportunity you have to represent yourself and your views.  

Victor Marks, MD, is director of dermatology at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. He is a member of the Academy’s Mohs Micrographic Surgery Committee. During his term on the AAD Board of Directors, 2007-2012, he helped form the Academic Dermatology Leadership Program.

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