The American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual meeting concluded Wednesday following the adoption of several new policies and election of new officers and other leaders. Held June 11-15 in Chicago, the meeting also featured an address by Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who spoke about the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) proposed rule.
In his address, Administrator Slavitt said MACRA gives Medicare an opportunity to “…end the patchwork of measurement programs created over time and replace them with a new single framework that, while it has several components, can provide the basis for a more flexible, relevant and ultimately simpler to use system.” He also spoke about “…the historic opportunity we have before us to change how Medicare pays for care” and encouraged physicians and medical societies to provide input. (The Wisconsin Medical Society will submit comments on the proposed rule prior to the June 27 deadline, and the AMA has several MACRA resources available on its website.)
The House of Delegates (HOD) adopted several new policies on key health care issues, including some introduced by the Wisconsin delegation. One urges equal health care access and payment for eating disorders. Although current federal law mandates parity in benefit levels for eating disorders, many payers do not offer parity of services, effectively excluding eating disorders from mental health parity. Another new policy calls for studying access to care in secular and religious hospitals.
Additional policies adopted by the AMA HOD include:
- Creating a program to dispose of unwanted medications—With a flood of unused medications already in circulation, the AMA called for the pharmaceutical industry to fund a program to dispose of unwanted medications as hazardous waste.
- Asking CMS to withdraw Medicare’s new Part B drug reimbursement program, noting that the proposal as created will make life more difficult for high acuity-patients and small physician practices, especially those in rural, remote areas.
- Asking CMS to add physician work-life balance to the Triple Aim—The policy asks that physician work-life balance be added to “healthcare professional” experience measures for evaluating how well alternative payment models function.
- Gun safety—Existing policy on gun safety was expanded to include support for waiting periods and background checks for all firearm purchasers, and a new policy adopted calls gun violence in the United States “a public health crisis” requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution. The AMA also resolved to lobby Congress to overturn legislation that for 20 years has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence.
For more information about these and other policies adopted during the Annual Meeting, click here.
Andrew W. Gurman, MD, an orthopedic hand surgeon from Hollidaysburg, Penn., was sworn in as the 171st AMA president, and David O. Barbe, MD, MHA, a family physician from Mountain Grove, Mo., was elected president-elect.
Wisconsin was well represented at the meeting. Society President Barbara Hummel, MD, Immediate Past President Jerry Halverson, MD, and President-elect Noel Deep, MD, all attended as did the following Society members, who participated as AMA delegates, alternate delegates, or ex officio members: Jacob Behrens, MD, Clarence Chou, MD, Ryan Denu, Cyril “Kim” Hetsko, MD (former AMA Trustee), George Lange, MD, Timothy McAvoy, MD, Casey Melcher, MD, Michael Miller, MD, Klint Peebles, MD, Dina Marie Pitta (AMA Trustee), Charles Rainey, MD, Keshni Ramnanan, MD, Paul Wertsch, MD, and Tosha Wetterneck, MD (Wisconsin AMA delegation chair). Young Physician and Resident Fellow Section members Gurdesh Bedi, MD, Laurel Bessey, MD, Bradley Burmeister, MD, and Maria Mora Pinzon, MD, also participated, along with a number of specialty society members and medical students from Wisconsin.
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