A Note From the President

Published in August Issue             

Dear Fellow Members,

I hope that you are enjoying the summer and school break with your families. As we prepare for the upcoming ObesityWeek gathering in New Orleans Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, 2016, I am pleased to announce that we have received the highest number of abstracts in the history of our Society’s annual Clinical Congress!

Michel Gagner, MD, and the members of the Program Committee have been working diligently to assemble an outstanding scientific and unforgettable social program that I am sure you will very much enjoy. Make your reservation and do not miss the opportunity to join us for our Foundation’s LEAD awards luncheon—space is limited! As always, we will have our outstanding awards ceremony and a wonderful Gospel Choir.

I hope you’ve taken the time to nominate the members you feel should become part of our society’s leadership. Our nominating committee is working attentively to finalize the official ballot for you to vote in the coming weeks.

For the last decade, our Society’s Clinical Issues Committee has been publishing position statements in an attempt to clarify the ASMBS position on the most controversial topics for our members, payers and the public. As I am sure you are aware, last month in SOARD, we published a position statement on preoperative diets that are currently mandated by most insurance plans. I am pleased to announce that finally our voices have been heard and change is on its way. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Oregon has recently published new language, stating that Healthcare Service Corporation (HCSC), which is the largest customer-owned healthcare insurance in the US, no longer requires patients with severe obesity to complete preoperative weight loss programs of specified duration. Furthermore, they state that HCSC still believes that in order for patients to succeed in resolving their obesity disease, they should undergo bariatric surgery and be followed by a multidisciplinary team to help support a lifelong commitment to lifestyle changes.

On a personal note, I still put my patients through a one-week high-protein liquid diet hoping that their livers will shrink and, with that, allow a better visibility of the gastroesophageal junction. We hope that that other insurers will follow BCBS Oregon’s lead and discontinue mandated preoperative weight loss programs.

I am also pleased to announce that after two years of collaboration and immeasurable efforts, the Essentials of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Taskforce led by Stephanie Jones, MD and Dan Jones, MD created a FREE Essentials app. This new app includes everything a health provider needs to know when caring for patients from the beginning stages of considering weight loss surgery. It serves as a review for the bariatric surgeon and certified bariatric nurse. Users can earn MOC’s, CME’s and CEU’s.

Finally, as I have done in previous messages, I would like to call our members to action and support our PAC. While increasing advocacy and awareness efforts through foundation walks and position statements is critical to improving access to care in bariatric surgery, giving and donating has proven to be one of the most efficient tools. Please, support us with your contribution. It is not necessarily the amount you can donate, but your voice and name that counts. Thank you for any help you can give in this ongoing effort.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Rio at the upcoming IFSO meeting!