Chattanooga doctor takes helm of Tennessee Medical Association

photo Dr. Chris Young, an anesthesiologist, poses for a picture as nurses check on recovering patients on Thursday at Erlanger hospital. Young has been appointed president of the Tennessee Medical Association.

As patients struggle to wade through murky changes of health care reform, many physicians are right there with them.

While the drama of the Affordable Care Act played out in the U.S. Supreme Court hearings and the presidential election, many doctors felt stuck, says physician and newly installed Tennessee Medical Association President Dr. Chris Young.

"Some physicians -- especially in this part of the country-- had the idea that, 'Maybe it will all just go away,'" he said. "But now we know that for at least the next three years, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. So we need to work together to do the best with what we've got."

As he takes the helm of the TMA, Young said he hopes to help doctors navigate what he calls "the biggest change in health care since Medicare," so that they can focus more energy on actually doing their jobs.

"My goal is to help physicians feel empowered amidst the changes, and to remind them that they can make a difference in the midst of the chaos of health care right now," said Young. "I believe that doctors can make a difference if they're organized."

With 8,000 members, the TMA is the largest organization of physicians in the state. It represents physicians of all specialties to government agencies, lawmakers and insurance companies.

After being elected to the position last year, Young was installed at the TMA's annual conference last weekend.

Young has been an anesthesiologist in Chattanooga for 21 years. He became interested in organized medicine -- doctors influencing the political and business decisions that affect health care -- about 12 years ago.

Besides health care reform, Young said he expects other hot topics the TMA deals with this year to include the state's prescription drug abuse problem and the nation's persistent drug shortage.

Young knows he's taking the position at the cusp of a tumultuous year, with brewing battles over Medicaid expansion and the introduction of health insurance exchanges. But he's energized, he said.

"There's a lot of opportunity right now," he said. "Whatever we do, we as physicians have to think about how we're going to do our part to lower the cost, improve the quality and increase the access to health care."

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at or 423-757-6673.