We all try to find a way to advocate and contribute in our own different ways. When I stumbled green into private practice in 1976, I was most confounded by the intricacy of setting a fee schedule and understanding payment practices. In those days of ‘reasonable charge,’ most payment policy was closely guarded and difficult to understand by design.
As I fumbled through the maze, I realized we must find a way to change the system and create some transparency and order to fees, coding and payment policy. I became involved in the Texas state society very early in my practice. I only sought one job: that of third-party liaison committee chairman. I’ve held the post now for over 30 years. It is my job to relate to the third-party payors — private insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. — and develop payment policies that are transparent to all.
While I have always participated in state scope issues and all political issues with my time and political action committee contribution — as well as individual political contributions — my love has been payment policy.??
I was fortunate enough to be selected to serve on the Academy’s CPT Committee for many years, which morphed into the Health Policy Committee. Both have broadened my horizon to include all local, as well as national, payment-policy issues. This knowledge has allowed me to participate in all Texas and Academy CODEquests, and expand them to become the largest in the country. Involvement on the committee has also enabled me to participate in coding talks around Texas and the adjacent states. I am a payment-policy advocate.??
As I get along in age, I still love my profession as much as ever. I want to continue practicing ophthalmology and continue strong involvement and advocacy in payment-policy issues as long as I can be useful.
John M. Haley, MD, is a general ophthalmologist and full clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.