Cedric Bright “Excited” To Serve As The 112th NMA President
(BlackDoctor.org) — Cedric Bright, M.D., was installed as the 112th president of the National Medical Association July 26 during the NMA Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly.
Dr. Bright has served the NMA in many positions throughout the years, and is well positioned to know not only the road it has traveled, but also the path he sees ahead.
“NMA in the 1960s was a driving force behind the formation of Medicare and Medicaid,” said Dr. Bright, assistant dean for special programs and admissions, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. “Our nation’s health care safety net is under siege, and we at NMA stand ready to defend it on behalf of the one in three Americans who depend on these programs.”
Cedric Bright, M.D., has served the NMA in many positions over the years, so as he prepares to serve as its president in the coming year he is well positioned to know not only the road it has traveled but the path he sees in front of the association.
“NMA in the 1960s was a driving force behind the formation of Medicare and Medicaid,” said Dr. Bright, assistant dean for special programs and admissions, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. “Our nation’s health care safety net is under siege, and we at NMA stand ready to defend it on behalf of the one in three Americans who depend on these programs. Medicaid will be the main source for expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”
Because states oversee Medicaid, the NMA must coordinate its efforts across the country if Medicaid is to grow to help the ACA succeed in expanding health care to more Americans.
“We want to find issues that allow our local and state members to be active in the health policy debate,” Dr. Bright said. “Medicaid can be that catalyst, since some in Congress would like to convert the program into to a block-grant system. The problem with block grants is you get one pot of money. Once that money runs out, you cannot go back to Uncle Sam looking for more, even if the demand rises and the state cannot meet the demand.
To prepare local and state chapters of the NMA to be more active in the debate, the NMA needs to use social media to spread its message among members and allies.
“We will be developing tool kits to help our local societies disseminate that information and advocate on behalf of the programs,” Dr. Bright said.
While politics plays a great role in expanding health care to underserved African-Americans and eliminating health care disparities, the association also knows it must continue its focus on clinical issues, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.
“Our No. 1 clinical issue is obesity,” Dr. Bright said. “We know the cost of health disparities costs the nation $1.4 trillion a year. Under that comes obesity — we spend more than $250 billion a year on issues dealing with obesity. It is the no. 1 topic across all racial lines, across every state. We are all getting bigger, and we need to combat that.”
The NMA supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, which promotes physical activity, and the USDA’s My Plate initiative, which promotes healthy eating, Dr. Bright said. The NMA would also like to partner with other groups, such as the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, with its Play 60 program.
“Our signature event for obesity is Walk a Mile With a Child. One of my goals this year is to have as many societies as possible have a Walk a Mile With a Child event in their state or locality. It promotes two things — physical activity and communication between parents and children,” he said.
Walk a Mile also gives NMA members the opportunity to talk to children about careers in health care because more primary care providers are needed, Dr. Bright said.
“My other goal, clinically, is cardiovascular disease,” he said. “We have seen decreases in cardiovascular disease across the board, but the gap between majorities and under-represented minorities continues to widen. That’s a concern because it affects society as a whole at various levels — job loss, decreased production in the workforce, loss of legacies in the families and loss of breadwinners.”
After serving the NMA as a president of local and state chapters, being on numerous committees and in several positions in the House of Delegates, including speaker, Dr. Bright said he is looking forward to more involvement as NMA president.
“I am excited to serve this year. This is the culmination of all the service I have done within the association,” he said. “I am excited about the opportunities before us this year to impact our nation. I look forward to having the involvement of every member of the NMA to make this a success. This year is not about me, it is about the association and what everybody — not just the leadership — can bring to the table. We have one of the greatest staffs and Auxiliary assembled to work with the membership to help us reach our goals.”