Dr. Steinert assumes ASCRS presidency, sends message of 'inclusion'

April 16, 2005

Washington, DC &#8212 It's an annual rite of spring: each year the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) passes the baton from one leader to another. Roger Steinert, MD, assumed the presidency of the society during its general session Saturday morning.

April 17 - Washington, DC - It's an annual rite of spring: each year the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) passes the baton from one leader to another. Roger Steinert, MD, assumed the presidency of the society during its general session Saturday morning.

Dr. Steinert begins his term as the group's newly updated mission statement is put into action. That being: "to advance the art and science of ophthalmic surgery and the knowledge and skills of ophthalmic surgeons. It does so by providing clinical and practice management education and by working with patients, government, and the medical community to promote the quality of eye care."

These are worthy goals, Dr. Steinert said. The challenge will be to continue the momentum generated by outgoing President Priscilla Arnold, MD. Last year, ASCRS' committees and staff re-evaluated the group's mission. The end result was an unanimous agreement to be more creative and aggressive in identifying the changing needs of its membership.

"The theme for this year, therefore, is inclusion," Dr. Steinert said. "To paraphrase the old recruiting slogan, "Uncle ASCRS wants you! We all support each other, and that is our collective strength."

A number of educational and political initiatives are key to this inclusion. For one, the area of e-learning is designed to enhance the learning experience. The annual meeting contains too much good educational material that is largely lost once it is spoken, Dr. Steinert said.

"We have many members who deserve to benefit from this material even if they cannot attend the annual meeting," Dr. Steinert said.

In addition to educational initiatives, many political issues abound.

"Medicare payment issues take a new tack with pay-for-performance initiatives. Political pressure is building to allow Medicare patients to pay for elective enhancements to procedures," Dr. Steinert said. "President Bush has articulated tort reform as one of his key goals. We have scored some victories in the going struggle over scope of practice.

"It is not all bad news, but the stakes in the advocacy arena have never been higher," Dr. Steinert said. "We turn to you, our members, to be included.

"Every person in this room should make an EyePac contribution that stretches to the highest amount possible," he said. "Optometrists with substantially lower incomes are contributing much more than ophthalmologists in order to take your profession away from you."

He added that members need to be included in those who become known to political leaders at every level in state as well as federal government, and support politicians who understand the path to best patient care.

"This is where the battles are won and lost," Dr. Steinert concluded.