After making several successful presentations to the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) on the relative value of new and revised congenital cardiology procedure codes, SCAI nominated Dr. Sergio Bartakian to join the RUC as a full voting member. Five other experienced professionals ran for the one vacant seat on the RUC. After 4 ballots, Dr. Bartakian won the right to be SCAI’s first representative to the RUC. No other cardiovascular subspecialty has had a voting member on the RUC.   

In his speech, Dr. Bartakian credited his non-traditional route to becoming a congenital interventional cardiologist. Having arrived in the U.S. as Armenian refugees fleeing a war-torn Lebanon, little was afforded to his parents, aside from an opportunity. After high school, Dr. Bartakian entered the United States Marine Corps where he served proudly for 10 years, including service during the Persian Gulf War. After an honorable discharge, he was a successful leader in corporate America, until unexpectedly stumbling upon his calling to become a pediatric interventional cardiologist while volunteering at a local children’s hospital. He has never looked back. Dr. Bartakian currently serves as a pediatric and congenital interventional cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.  

The RUC has 31 voting members and makes recommendations on the relative work value of different procedures and the direct practice expenses involved in all procedures. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has observers at each of the RUC’s three nearly week-long meetings annually and CMS usually accepts over 90% of the RUC’s recommendations. Dr. Bartakian will serve for two years.