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Medical Director of Health Policy

William L. Rich III, MDWilliam L. Rich III, MD

Dr. Rich is currently the medical director of health policy for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the oldest American medical specialty society. Prior to this, Dr. Rich served as the secretary for federal affairs for the Academy. He has had a 25-year involvement in health policy, health care financing, physician payment and quality metrics, in addition to consulting with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Health Policy Forum, the National Institute of Health Care Management and the Institute of Medicine. He has served on RWJ panels dealing with the future of fee-for-service Medicare; economic incentives for promoting quality; and health outcomes measures as a determinant of patient choice. He has served as a founder and executive committeeman for a local IPA and the nation's largest national subspecialty PPO. 

In April 2009, Dr. Rich completed a six-year term as chair of the AMA Relative Value-Scale Update Committee (RUC) responsible for developing the work values and practice expense inputs for all physician services in the Medicare fee schedule. Previously he chaired the Resource Subcommittee that investigated new ethnographic and quantitative approaches to physician work and served 10 years as the representative of the Academy.  He served a six-year term as a member of the American College of Surgeons Health Policy Committee. 

Currently Dr. Rich serves as chair of the Health Professional Council of the National Quality Forum and represents at the Academy at the Ambulatory Quality Alliance and Surgical Quality Alliance. He was a member of NQF Steering Committee that developed criteria for efficiency measure development. Dr. Rich chairs the Academy's ophthalmic clinical data registry, IRIS (Intelligent Research in Sight) and served on the PEW Foundation work group "Future Directions for Medical Device Registries."

Past civic responsibilities include chairman of the United Way, the Board of Governors of Georgetown University, president of the Hoya Hoop Club, past president of the Fairfax County Medical Society and past executive committeeman of the Northern Virginia Health Systems Agency. 

Academy activities include physician workforce studies in the 1970s; the initial founding chair of the Practice Management Division; lecturer in health policy, quality measurement, and registry implementation at the annual meeting; and currently a member of the Committee of Secretaries. Dr. Rich has delivered numerous named lectureships dealing with health policy and continues to lecture on a regular basis at national and regional meetings. He has received the Honor and Senior Honor award from the Academy; the President's Award from the American Glaucoma Society; the Special Recognition Award from the American Society of Retinal Specialists; the Annual Honored Lecture Award from Women in Ophthalmology; and the Founder's Award from Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rich is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences and its medical school. He served a rotating internship at San Francisco General Hospital and completed a residency in ophthalmology at Georgetown, where he is on the clinical faculty. He is currently practicing general ophthalmology as the senior partner at Northern Virginia Ophthalmology Associates. He resides in Washington, D.C., and Solomons Island, Md., with his spouse, Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, senior vice president of science and quality for the American College of Cardiology. Their interests include bicycling, sailing, hiking and literature.