Published in December/January Issue             

Dear Fellow Members,

I begin this presidential message with an important acknowledgment and a heartfelt thank you to those who supported my nomination and made my dream come true. It is indeed a distinguished honor for me to have been elected as the 30th President of ASMBS.

Our society has grown to over 4,200 members, including surgeons and integrated healthcare professionals. I take this opportunity to thank John Morton, MD for an outstanding year as our leader and look forward to continuing to work with him on the many long-lasting, critical initiatives he began. I also would like to thank Georgeann Mallory and the ASMBS office staff for the monumental work they have done in carrying our society to its current size and stature.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in new challenges. Amongst those, the most significant is restricted access to obesity treatment, with only 23 states including coverage of bariatric surgery as part of the essential healthcare benefit. I have asked Dr. Morton to continue leading his outstanding efforts to improve access, in conjunction with Wayne English MD, chair of the Access Committee.

Obesity Week 2015 was again an outstanding and successful scientific event. Attendance rates reached an all-time high, with well over 5,200 attendees that included members of ASMBS and The Obesity Society. As part of his memorable presidential address, Dr. Morton launched the ASMBS Political Action Committee (PAC). I encourage each of you to please support this very important mission of ours.

Led by our Program Committee chair, Michel Gagner, MD, we are already planning both our spring event at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas and Obesity Week 2016 in New Orleans. I invited Natan Zundel, MD (current IFSO President) and Shanu Kothari, MD to join this committee as co-chairs. I am certain you will be thrilled with the dynamic programs they are assembling.

One of the main goals of my presidency is to energize our leaders and engage our members. In order to achieve the above-mentioned goals, I have created several new committees, such as Community and Rural Surgery, Military, Obesity Prevention, General Surgery, Video Education, and Flexible Endoscopy. I also created a Past Presidents Council Committee that will not only handle issues of ethics via the Ethics Committee, but will also have a non-voting representative at our Executive Council.

I have charged our Quality and Safety Committee with developing care paths that will hopefully become the backbone of how we practice and will be embraced by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). The latter should result in improved outcomes and decreased costs.

In order to keep everyone connected and apprised of association goals, developments, and achievements, Dr. Morton is finalizing the ASMBS mobile app that will be available for download to your mobile devices. We charged our Communications Committee with developing a series of webinars in which we will feature controversial topics to be debated by our leaders. I encourage all of you to follow Neil Floch, MD and myself on Twitter to get the dialogue going.

This year, ASMBS became the first society in the USA to have state chapter representatives in all 50 states. Now our state chapters must become active and work to have impact on regional challenges, such as improving access, building advocacy efforts, and creating awareness of the outstanding results we have achieved with our interventions. With your vote and approval, I am planning to increase the number of member representatives on our Executive Council; in order to keep the communication with our state chapters fluent, I invited the Chair of the State Chapters Committee, Chris Joyce, MD, to join the Executive Council as a non-voting member.

As I am sure you realize from this communication, I have an ambitious agenda for this year. I am equally sure, however, that with your help and engagement we will achieve all of these ASMBS initiatives. Follow us in connect, get on Twitter, send us your questions and complaints, and sign up for committee work.

On behalf of the Executive Council and the Executive Office of ASMBS, I take this opportunity to wish each of you, your beloved family members and friends a blessed holiday season. We wish you a great finish for 2015 and an even better start in 2016.

Happy Holidays!

Raul Rosenthal, MD