Health Through Knowledge

The Serano Group


The IDSA is a trade group representing infectious disease specialists.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a trade group promoting and protecting the interests of U.S. infectious disease specialists. While promoting an image of concern for public health, their primary campaigns and lobbying activities involve ensuring insurance payments for their members and influencing U.S. infectious disease policy so it concentrates on infections where members can be the most successful, professionally and financially.

As of May, 2009, the IDSA stated their four policy and advocacy priorities as: antimicrobial availability, pandemic Influenza preparedness, fair and adequate reimbursement for infectious disease physician services, and funding for ID programs paid for by the U.S. government.

In 2004, the IDSA included employees of the NIH and CDC on their board of directors, probably to aid the agenda of securing federal funds for their members.The NIH and CDC make federal funding decisions. Government employees were no longer on the board as of 2009.

While the IDSA refers to themselves as a “professional society”, in 1943 the Supreme Court ruled  that groups like the IDSA are in essence “trade groups” fully accountable for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The IDSA was subpoenaed in 2006 for investigation of violations of anti-monopoly statutes, specifically in their handling of Lyme borreliosis, a matter not resolved as of May, 2009.

The IDSA seems excellent at maintaining a united front. There is seldom public dissent among their members. The IDSA controls two highly visible journals, The Journal of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Medicare Payments

The Resource Based Relative Value Scale (RVS) Update Committee (RUC), a proprietary committee within the AMA dominated by specialists, has been the only advisor to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on physician reimbursement for many years. Essentially, they set how much specialists get paid by Medicare. The RUC has consistently urged CMS to increase specialty reimbursement at the expense of primary care. Although it is difficult to see who are the 29 members of RUC, the IDSA does not appear to be directly represented.

The IDSA states their membership variously as over 8,000 or about 7,500 members. There are about 800,000 physicians in the U.S.



May 03, 2008