AMA delegates’ meeting mixes ire and blame
Physicians were in a cantankerous mood at last week’s American Medical Association annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago, picking fights with other healthcare groups as well as with each other.
Some turned on the AMA for its failure to achieve Medicare physician-payment reform and other lobbying priorities. But AMA leaders urged unity to achieve medicine’s goals.
Delegates restated that physicians should be the “captain of the ship” in team-based care, a position quickly criticized by nurse practitioners.
They also restated the AMA’s position that doctors providing care through telemedicine should be licensed in the states where their patients reside, a position at odds with telehealth providers and some hospital systems.
Dr. Barbara McAneny, re-elected to the AMA board as its new chair, summed up the delegates’ frustrated mood. “I know what it means to physicians to feel like a data-entry clerk,” she said.
In an interview, new AMA president, Dr. Robert Wah, acknowledged the malaise among AMA doctors. “Some people respond to change and uncertainty with unease and anxiety,” said Wah, the organization’s first Chinese-American president. “I choose to see change as an opportunity.”
Delegates railed against the required switch to the ICD-10 coding system and federal meaningful-use requirements for health information technology.
They also voted to oppose mandatory participation in new maintenance-of-certification programs.
And they blasted the Joint Commission for not requiring patient-centered medical home practices to be physician-led to qualify for certification.
In addition, AMA leaders criticized Congress for not repealing and replacing the Medicare sustainable growthrate formula for physician payment.
“I saw politicians on both sides of the aisle—in the Senate and the House—voice their approval for the legislation,” said Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, outgoing AMA president. “And then, a few weeks later, I saw those same politicians vote that bill down.”
Dr. James Madara, the association’s executive vice president and CEO, emphasized the importance of “a clear and unified voice” in advancing the association’s agenda.
That unity was threatened by a resolution calling for an independent review of AMA lobbying efforts.
Some House of Delegate members said the resolution was a thinly veiled jab at the AMA board for its support of key elements of Obamacare. Ultimately, delegates rejected the independent review.