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Groups leaving MGMA

On May 1, the Arizona Medical Group Management Association told the national MGMA it would end its affiliation. In the last few months, numerous other organizations have done the same and rebranded as Healthcare Leaders Associations. 

The exodus happened after the MGMA — an association with a membership of more than 60,000 medical practice leaders — changed its affiliation agreement deals. In June, the national organization sought more oversight of financial performance and membership data among its affiliates in 46 states. 

The MGMA proposed two affiliation agreements. The first option was for an organization to be a "state chapter," which would qualify as an MGMA subsidiary in which the national organization would assume administrative and governance duties. The alternative was to be a "state partner affiliate," which is more similar to former agreements but would forbid the affiliate from hosting a conference within 30 days of a nearby MGMA event and require the affiliate to offer dual membership and meet key performance indicators. 

Forty-one organizations sent a notice of dissent in September. 

The letter asked for a year to consider the new affiliate agreement options, a comparison between historical agreements and the current choices, and a meeting with MGMA leadership. The national organization agreed to meet in Nashville, Tenn., and declined the other requests. 

"When we realized there would be no compromise, there would be no changes made, we had to very quickly figure out our exit strategy," Rachael Perlinger, president of Healthcare Leaders Association of Minnesota, told Becker's. She described the disaffiliation as a rebranding effort. 

The other organizations that disaffiliated are Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts/Rhode Island, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire/Vermont, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 

The MGMA has created its own chapters in the states where HLAs exist, continuing its presence in 46 states. 

Andrew Swanson, senior vice president of product strategy and sales at the MGMA, told Becker's the national organization has been reconsidering its affiliation agreements for years because of financial struggles related to halted conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Before suggesting the new affiliate agreements, the MGMA found a few state affiliations were "on the brink of insolvency," Mr. Swanson said. 

Decades of trust and affiliations eroded in 2023. 

"Those two things, offering of dual membership and the oversight of MGMA, pushed some organizations into a feeling of, 'Not a partnership but more of a reporting relationship, a hierarchical relationship,'" he said. "Those were the impetus — or at least that's what we've been told was the impetus — for some of the state organizations who carried the MGMA brand to disaffiliate."

Healthcare Leaders Association and MGMA members alike will feel minimal differences, according to Mr. Swanson and HLA leaders. One contrast is the MGMA offers the American College of Medical Practice Executives certification and credit hours; state HLAs do not. 

Former MGMA affiliates said the Healthcare Leaders Association brand has more inclusive language: All managers are leaders but not all leaders are managers, they said.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 8:40 a.m. to clarify the Medical Group Management Association has organizations in 46 states.

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