The American Medical Association has selected a new leader. The group has hired Dr. James Madara, the former CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center, to be the new executive vice president and chief executive officer at the AMA.
At a press conference to announce the appointment, Dr. Madara, 60, said he is enthusiastic about taking on the post. And he immediately got to work defending the relevancy of the organization he will head starting July 1. The debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent uncertainty about the health care system highlights the importance of having the AMA act as a strong advocate for physicians and patients, he said. “I think this is a very unique time in American medicine where a physician voice is needed critically.”
Dr. Madara has no shortage of experience. He is an academic pathologist and an expert on epithelial cell biology and gastrointestinal disease. He has also been a leader at major academic medical centers, including Emory University and the University of Chicago. Before taking on the role of CEO at the University of Chicago Medical Center, he was the longest-serving dean at the university’s Pritzker School of Medicine. Recently, he served as a senior advisor at Leavitt Partners, a health care consulting firm founded by Michael O. Leavitt, the former governor of Utah and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
Dr. Madara will have his hands full managing the AMA, which has garnered a lot of attention over the apparent divide within its ranks on health reform. But Dr. Madara is no stranger to controversy. As the CEO at the University of Chicago Medical Center, he spearheaded a program known as the Urban Health Initiative. It is a program aimed at connecting residents of Chicago’s South Side with preventive care from local physicians and hospitals. But critics accused the university of trying to unload poor, uninsured patients at other facilities.
Dr. Madara said his experience with the Urban Health Initiative taught him people are uncomfortable with change but that you can’t let that discomfort stifle innovation. We will follow Dr. Madara’s tenure to see what changes he brings to the AMA.
— Mary Ellen Schneider (on Twitter @MaryEllenNY)