ASMBS News and Update—July 2011

| July 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

by Robin L. Blackstone, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Dr. Blackstone is President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Medical Director, Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Center, Scottsdale, Arizona.

ASMBS Mission Statement
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery was founded in 1983 to establish educational and support programs for surgeons and integrated health professionals. Our mission is to improve the care and treatment of people with obesity and related disease; to advance the science and understanding of metabolic surgery; to advocate for health care policy that ensures patient access to high-quality prevention and treatment of obesity. For more information, visit www. If you are interested in becoming a member or have questions about ASMBS, please contact Georgeann Mallory, the ASMBS Executive Director, via phone: (352)-331-4900 or e-mail: [email protected]


Message from the President
I want to personally welcome you to what is shaping up as a busy and promising year for ASMBS members and our patients. I am dedicating this year to pursuing the following goals:

•    Bring added value to membership
•    Advance the medicalization of obesity by sharing critical changes in the paradigm for understanding obesity as a disease and educating our colleagues and the public about the mechanism of action of the procedures we do to treat obesity and its related diseases
•    Continue the quest for a standard-covered benefit for the treatment of obesity
•    Update and renew our Centers of Excellence Program
•    Become a resource for public education in obesity and treatment

The committees are at the heart of these important goals and have an aggressive agenda of items they wish to accomplish this year. I have seen our membership energized by the openness and transparency of nomination processes, and many new leaders with tremendous talent are emerging to help. Like many of you, I operate three or four days a week, and I know finding the time to volunteer is not easy, but at a minimum, we should keep abreast of the important initiatives and projects of the society. When your input is requested, whether it is calling your congressman, voting on an important issue before the society, or giving your comments on documents out for public comment, please lend us your talent and energy. If you have anything you would like to share, please e-mail me at [email protected]
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Hang on to your hat. It is going to be a great year!


Robin L. Blackstone, MD, FACS, FASMBS


News and Update July 2011

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery 28th annual meeting. Over 2,000 surgeons, physicians, and integrated health professionals in Orlando, Florida attended the 28th annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). The new format of longer paper presentations with time for discussion, symposia, and debates over controversial topics in metabolic surgery was met with an enthusiastic response by surgeons and integrated health personnel. The 29th annual meeting of the ASMBS will take place Sunday, June 17 to Friday, June 22, 2012, in San Diego, California. Ninh Nguyen, MD, the new ASMBS Program Chair, will direct the program. This will be the last meeting of the society before it joins The Obesity Society (TOS) in a joint meeting for Obesity Week beginning November 2013.

New president and executive council welcomed. The ASMBS welcomed the new ASMBS President, Robin Blackstone, MD, and Executive Council at the annual business meeting on June 15, 2011. Scott Shikora, MD, Senior Past President and Chair of the Nominations Committee, announced the results of the election. The nomination process and electronic voting system engaged society members with the election and translated into a higher number of people voting than in past elections. For details, visit and click on the ASMBS “5 on the 5th” newsletter.

ASMBS Committee Chairs and Co-chairs and Executive Council meet in the annual strategic planning meeting. On June 17, the new ASMBS Executive Council met in a strategic planning session with the Committee Chairs and Co-chairs. Dr. Blackstone articulated the overall goals for 2011/2012, and each committee presented the results of their work from last year and their plans for the upcoming year. This annual alignment of the mission and vision of the society with the individual goals of the committees is essential for smooth functioning of the ASMBS. In addition, it gives the leadership a chance to funnel the work of the committee members into the discussion and plan for the upcoming one-, three-, and five-year strategic plans. To see a copy of the Committee presentation, please visit

Annual meeting generates tremendous media interest. The 28th annual meeting of thr ASMBS was a great success. Feedback from members who attended has been excellent and the reach of the ASMBS has extended far beyond the borders of Orlando, Florida. We are pleased to report that news media from all over the world, including The New York Times, Yahoo News, WebMD, Medscape,,, The Los Angeles Times, iVillage, HealthDay, CBS Radio, US News & World Report,, and General Surgery News reported on eight news releases issued by ASMBS based on studies presented at the meeting. Media outreach resulted in more than 100 individual news outlets publishing stories on bariatric and metabolic surgery, including those related to the prevention of heart attack, stroke, and migraine; its increasing safety profile; its positive impact on infertility in women (PCOS); and its use in lower BMIs. The annual meeting news releases are available on the ASMBS website

Day on the Hill, June 20, 2011. In the spring of 2011, the ASMBS, through our Washington, DC, representative, Chris Gallagher, established a collaborative group—the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC)—made up of ASMBS, TOS, Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), and the American Diatectic Association (ADA). Together we represent over 100,000 members. The goal of the OCC is to establish a standard health benefit for treatment of obesity as in any other disease. Working together with this broad coalition, surgeons are not singled out for self interest.

A referenced summary of the current benefit for the treatment of obesity has been prepared by Joe Nadglowski, President of the OAC (See sidebar, “A Review of the Current State of Access to Bariatric Surgery”). It is critical that Washington leaders realize that bariatric/metabolic procedures were included within the general surgery benefits of all policies prior to 2005. In 2005, all policies had carved out these particular procedures due to 1) increasing volume of the procedures when laparoscopic procedures became available, 2) high cost and expensive complications without qualifications for surgeons and facilities performing the procedures, and 3) as a result of adverse selection when some payers dropped out of providing the benefit and then high risk patients migrated to the remaining payers.

The ASMBS federal strategy is centered around establishing a benefit specific for evidence-based obesity treatment in the essential health benefit (EHB) in order to address a number of issues including, “disparity is provision of care” (i.e., obesity affects minorities, lower socioeconomic groups more commonly), discrimination (an issue addressed by Past President Dr. Bruce Wolfe in his presidential address), and adverse selection (i.e., if all insured patients have a benefit, then no one is left behind).

As our strategy unfolds, we may need each and every member to engage with local and state legislators, payers, and employers in order to get these benefits in place for our patients. Please look out for education from the society on this issue as these strategies unfold.

Legislative briefing. Robin Blackstone and John Morton, Chair of the Access to Care Committee, headed to Washington, DC, at the conclusion of the annual meeting to meet with a variety of people on Capitol Hill. They also participated in a legislative briefing on the Hill.

Forty legislative assistants were registered for the hill briefing, which was given by OAC and Stop Obesity Alliance, a group based in Georgetown. The primary presentation was given by Scott Kahan, MD, MPH. The legislative briefing was very well received with excellent questions from the legislative assistants.

ASMBS fall educational event September 22–24, 2011, Chicago Hyatt Regency. The ASMBS has begun to build a regional education event opposite our annual meeting. Taking key educational courses that were highly sought after during the annual meeting, these courses are offered in a more intimate setting with enhanced interaction between faculty and attendees.

Courses being offered this September include the following:

Friday, September 23, 2011
1.    Coding and reimbursement for your bariatric surgery practice (morning). Co-Directors: Robin Blackstone and Paresh Shah
AM Session: 8:00am–12:00pm.
2.    New indications for bariatric surgery: metabolic surgery, low BMI, and adolescent. Co-Directors: Raul Rosenthal, Bruce Wolfe, and Tom Inge
AM Session: 8:00am–12:00pm.
3.    Management of difficult bariatric cases—A video-based course: What would you do?”
Co-Directors, Ninh Nguyen and Jaime Ponce
PM Session: 1:15pm–5:00pm.
4.    IH course: Building a quality bariatric surgery program.
Full-Day Session: 8:00am–5:00pm.

Saturday, September 24, 2011
5.    Achieving ASMBS Centers of Excellence (Full day). Co-Directors: David Provost, Wayne English, and Lynne Thompson
Full-Day Session: 8:00am–5:00pm
6.    Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy: from primary to revisional surgery. Course Co-Directors: Samer Mattar and Gregg Jossart
Full-Day Session: 8:00-3:00, (Thursday morning with early afternoon video session)
7.    A primer to management of bariatric complications. Course Co-Directors: Esteban Varela and John Morton
PM Session: 1:00pm–5:00pm (afternoon with free admission for fellow, charge all other).

Sunday, September 25, 2011
8.    IH course: Clinical detection management of long-term psychosocial and behavioral issues
AM Session: 8:00am–12:00pm

ASMBS leadership scheduled to present* include Robin Blackstone, MD; Jaime Ponce, MD; Ninh Nguyen, MD; Bruce Wolfe, MD, John Baker, MD; Samar Mattar, MD; Raul Rosenthal, MD; John Morton, MD; Emma Patterson, MD; David Provost, MD; Karen Schulz; and Laura Boyer,

Additional scheduled faculty* include Paresh Shah, MD; Tom Inge, MD; Wayne English, MD; Gregg Jossart, MD; Estaban Verela, MD; and Lynne Thompson.

Updated presenter information can be found at

*subject to change


Category: ASMBS News and Update, Past Articles

Leave a Reply