On August 13, ASAPAC, the political action committee of the ASA, held a 24 hour marathon to try to raise $100,000 from its members to cover a shortfall in contributions this fiscal year. All day ASA members were bombarded with urgent emails imploring us to make any monetary donations. The state with the most contributors would even get a special mention in ASAPAC publications. Woohoo!
Now you would think that raising $100,000 from a group of anesthesiologists should be relatively easy. First of all, the ASA boasts over 50,000 members in its ranks. Then you consider that the average salary of an anesthesiologist is $338,000. Right there we're talking about almost $17 BILLION of earnings power to forward our society's political agenda. So raising a measly $100K shouldn't be that hard, right?
Well, yes and no. Yes the ASAPAC did reach its fundraising goal of $100,000. As a matter of fact, they raised $195,304. So the society got almost twice what it was looking for, giving a healthy boost towards next year's contributions already. But it was the manner in which it was raised that is shameful.
VA Nurses Handbook or demanding Medicare reimbursement equivalency with other physicians. That is not even two percent of the membership that could be bothered to help out their own future.
The state with the most contributors was California, with eighty. That should not be a surprise since California has the most ASA members. However California anesthesiologists gave on average a paltry $179.37 each. That is below the national average donation of $225.26. Full disclosure--I too donated to the ASAPAC that day. Alabama took the prize for most money given per physician. Its 46 donors gave a mean of $503.70. At least we didn't bring up the bottom of the list. Ironically that dubious honor belongs to the anesthesiologists in the District of Columbia. They of all ASA members should realize how important money is to get any traction with our nation's representatives. D.C.'s five anesthesiologist donors only contributed a mere $73.33 each. That's just pathetic.
So congratulations to the ASA and the ASAPAC for making your goal this year. We need our voices heard loud and clear in Washington to make sure anesthesiologists remain a formidable presence in all healthcare related legislation. However I think a stronger outreach needs to be undertaken to get members more heavily invested in the society. When 98% of the members choose to ignore an urgent plea to contribute to their own professional future, the membership is telling the society that they don't feel they are getting their voices heard inside the new glass headquarters up there in Schaumberg.