By John Carruthers, assistant editor,
January 02, 2014Cumming, Ga., dermatologist Alex Gross, MD, exemplifies legislative involvement and action among physicians. When he became displeased with patient-unfriendly cosmetic supervision laws, he coordinated with his state medical society in an effort to change those laws, and now serves as chairman of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, protecting patients and championing physician interests in the statehouse and elsewhere.
"I've had an opportunity to have my voice and the voice of dermatologists and specialists heard."
- Dr. Gross’s impetus for action was Georgia’s 2007 legislation regarding the use of lasers by non-physicians, which he called the nation’s most lax laser law at the time. Despite testimony by himself and other members of the Georgia Society of Dermatologists, the bill was passed into law over physician objections.
- “The law was actually written by the owner of a medispa who was not a doctor, and was introduced by a good legislator friend of his,” Dr. Gross said. “None of our concerns were addressed in the law, and afterward, we decided to focus on our efforts to get a member placed on the Georgia Composite Medical Board.”
- Dr. Gross volunteered to lobby for an appointment to the board, and was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2008.
- Following his appointment, Dr. Gross was able to have the law addressed in 2009, specifying training and certification requirements, as well as removing language that would have allowed certain agencies to waive education or experience requirements. It also required that the advisory committee for any laser facility include at least one person licensed to practice medicine and with demonstrated expertise in the biologic behavior of the skin.
- “We had to get all of the stakeholders together and negotiate something that was going to be satisfactory to all the parties involved,” Dr. Gross said. “My wife is a lobbyist, and she always says that you have to find out what everyone wants and in some measure give it to them. That’s basically what we did with the law — create a consensus law that everyone can live with. If you can make the issue as non-contentious as possible, it’s easier to move forward.”
- The highlight of his involvement with the medical board, Dr. Gross said, has been writing the state’s guidelines for office-based anesthesia and surgery.
- “The bottom line is making sure that patients get good care,” Dr. Gross said. “My being on the board makes me able to shape policy and protect patients.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.