“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Those words were spoken by former President Harry Truman. It has guided me for many years, including the way I have led the College over the last year. It is an attitude shared by our staff and the doctors working on so many levels in the College. I am also reminded of another quote by another American president, John Adams: “Facts are stubborn things.” As I am about to become a past president of the College, what can we learn from these past presidents of the United States?
I am so proud of the accomplishments of the Advocacy Council; just in the time I have been president, there have been more accomplishments than I can list in this brief column. When the COVID crisis threatened our very existence, we responded immediately. We did not need to form a special task force or form a new committee. Our infrastructure was already in place, ready to face the challenge head on from the start.
I am reminded of what Jim Sublett, MD, FACAAI, the College’s executive director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, has said so many times about our efforts. “It is like the air conditioning – nobody notices it until it’s not working.” Many of you may not realize that just like its parent, the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the Advocacy Council continues to be an organization that has its own bylaws and corporate structure.
While “claiming credit” has never been a priority of mine, nor of the College, perhaps I should have been better during my term as president about reminding you of what the College has done for the practicing allergist. In my final Insider column as president, I want to remind you of a few “stubborn facts:”
- The Advocacy Council is the only national allergy organization in the United States whose lobbying firm represents only a single medical specialty – you, the allergists.
- The Advocacy Council is the only allergy organization in the U.S. that has a governance structure that allows it to directly advocate in Washington on behalf of our members – practicing allergists.
- The Advocacy Council is the only advocacy organization that has been serving allergists in the U.S. continuously for over four decades.
- The Advocacy Council is the only allergy organization that has successfully negotiated with USP twice to preserve our rights to mix extracts in-office.
- The College is the only allergy organization that partners with, and financially supports annually, lay organizations for our patients with allergy and asthma.
- The Advocacy Council and the College are the only allergy organizations that annually participate in an advocacy day with a lay organization in promoting issues for allergists and our patients with allergic illness –the Allergy and Asthma Network’s Allergy & Asthma Day on Capitol Hill.
If there were no College and no Advocacy Council, the world of the allergist would be a strangely different place. Without doubt, the fees we are paid for the services we perform would be less. We would not have a trail blazing alternative payment plan (APM) before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). We might be facing a future where we could not mix allergy extracts in our office. Just like Dr. Sublett’s “air conditioning” metaphor, we will continue to work for you, the practicing allergist, behind the scenes, like we always have.
It has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve as your president over the past 12 months. It has truly been a remarkable and unique experience! I leave you with a strong leadership team! I remain confident the College will continue to be your trusted partner to guide you through tumultuous times! Please join us for our virtual Annual Meeting. I will be addressing you one last time as president in our business meeting on Saturday. While I will no longer be writing to you in this column on a regular basis, I promise I will remain an active advocate for you, the practicing allergist. One last quote, this one from the late Auburn University play-by-play man, Jim Fyffe: “My time’s up, I thank you for yours!” Until we meet again…
J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI