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Report on American Medical Association Annual Meeting June 10-15, 2022

Report on American Medical Association Annual Meeting June 10-15, 2022
By David Bensema, MD, Delegate to the AMA for the Kentucky Medical Association

Thank you to each of my colleagues from the Lexington Medical Society for once again providing me with the privilege and opportunity to represent you and our KMA at the AMA Annual Meeting. This marked the completion of my eleventh year on the Kentucky Delegation.  I was honored this meeting to complete my service on Reference Committee F which deals with finance and governance issues, serving as chair to cap my three years of service.  My major takeaway from my service on this committee is that AMA dues are a good value.  We have not seen a dues increase in over twenty-five years yet our AMA has expanded their efforts in public and preventive health, medical education, advocacy, and equity.  Our AMA has worked with other stakeholders to identify and validate patient-focused treatment of diabetes and hypertension, improving treatment plan adherence and outcomes in challenging populations. Our AMA has funded innovation efforts in medical education, now supporting initiatives at over thirty medical schools to update curriculum and instructional methodology.  Our AMA is in Washington, DC daily representing the interests of our profession and our patients, and, as will be detailed below, has developed the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians. The Center for Health Equity, formed two years ago in response to resolutions passed by our House of Delegates (HOD), has hit the ground running, providing a number of online forums and educational programming, and at this year’s Annual Meeting hosting a very well-received equity session with both didactic and open forum opportunities.

The activities and passed resolutions from the HOD have continued to reflect the increasing diversity of our medical community. Substantial input from the Women’s Physicians Section, the Minority Affairs Section, the Medical Student Section, and the Resident and Fellows Section, has been added to the more traditional voices in crafting resolutions that reflect the diversity of society and medical community and respond to social issues impacting the health of our patients and healthcare delivery.  I would urge you to review the work product (AMA has published the Official Proceedings of the House of Delegates) that resulted this year from our diligent efforts in the HOD to review and act on 312 items of business (the largest volume of business in our history).  A sample of the breadth of our deliberations includes resolutions addressing KMA legislative priorities prior authorization and scope of practice, as well as impacts of private equity, responding to the potential repeal of Roe vs. Wade, school safety, food deserts, compensation for mandated activities like electronic prescribing of controlled substances and engaging with state prescription monitoring programs, eliminating the revenue neutrality stance of CMS payment regulations, and efforts to preserve independent private practices.  This is just a minute sampling of the issues addressed and new policies created during our meeting.  Our passed resolveds create the policies of the AMA and direct the activities of the Board of Trustees as they develop and operationalize the strategic plan of the AMA .

The AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians was launched during Immediate Past-President, Gerald Harmon, MD, a family physician from South Carolina’s remarks at the opening of the HOD on Friday, June 10.  The pillars of this plan are: 1) Fixing prior authorization, 2) Reforming Medicare payment, 3) Fighting scope creep by non-physician healthcare providers, 4) Supporting telehealth, and 5) Reducing physician burnout. This is an ambitious plan. It will require that our lobbying efforts in Washington, DC be focused and relentless.  It will require continued support of every state society as they work in their state legislatures to prevent further scope creep and erosion of the physician’s role as leader of the healthcare team. It will require a much more comprehensive understanding of where telehealth is beneficial and when its limitations would present a potential for harm, while advocating for reimbursement that reflects the real costs of providing the care. It will require educating administrators and others regarding the causes of burnout such as systemic structures, barriers, and regulatory burdens, and then providing leadership in redesigning our systems and support tools.  This ambitious plan is to be undertaken as our AMA continues its leadership efforts in healthcare access, equity, addressing the myriad threats to health like climate change, the opioid crisis, and SARS CoV 2 (and subsequent public health crises), and restoring scientifically supported medical care to primacy.  These efforts take funding, but even more they require advocates and communicators.  The efforts require doctors.

I want to close by expressing my gratitude for the honor of representing you, my medical community and family.  It is a blessing and responsibility that I never take for granted and I will continue to devote my efforts to support each of you and our patients.  Thank you!

I urge you, if you are not already a member, join the AMA, lend your voice to mine and thousands of others, to advance the science of medicine and the betterment of health.  AMA is an excellent value and together our voice is stronger.